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Web surfing 'as addictive as coffee'
More than half of U.S. office workers would rather give up coffee than lose their Internet connection.
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(CNN) -- Surfing the Web at work is an increasingly common habit that could be even more addictive than coffee, according to new research into Internet usage in the office.

According to the 2005 Web@Work survey, 93 percent of all employees in the U.S. spend at least some of their time at work accessing the Web, up from 86 percent a year ago, and many of them are logging on for personal reasons.

Among those, 52 percent said they would rather give up their morning caffeine hit than lose their Internet connection.

The average time spent accessing the Internet at work was 12.6 hours per week. But while employees estimated that 3.4 hours of that time was due to non-work related surfing, IT managers put that figure at closer to six hours.

"As the line between professional and personal usage of the Internet becomes more of a gray area, many employees have started to rely on it to complete their job duties as well as perform personal tasks during the work day," said Geoff Haggart of Internet firm Websense, which conducted the survey.

The most popular Web sites accessed were news sites (81 percent), personal email (61 percent), online banking (58 percent), travel (56 percent) and shopping (52 percent).

More men than women -- 62 percent compared with 54 percent -- admitted visiting non-work related Web sites at the office.

Men were 2.3 times more likely to visit sports sites and more than three times as likely to visit investment and stock purchasing sites. Almost a quarter of men also admitted visiting a porn site at work, although only 17 percent said they had done so deliberately.

As well as surfing the Internet, 18 percent of workers said they listened to or watched streaming media and 16 percent said they used instant messaging, although two-thirds of companies said IM usage wasn't sanctioned.

But while Internet use may be on the rise, it appears that companies have got wise to employees using their office hours to play computer games.

Just six percent of workers owned up to playing games, down from 14 percent a year ago.

Haggart said employees needed to monitor their personal Internet use closely to ensure the habit doesn't interfere with their work.

"With the sheer quantity and variety of Web sites and applications readily available, many employees are either not admitting to, or most likely not aware of, how much time they are really spending on personal surfing," he said.

"The solution lies in balancing employees' needs for personal use of the Web at work without draining overall productivity, morale of the company's bottom line."

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