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goldbricking

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Goldbricking is wasting time on the job. 

In an office environment, employees typically waste time on the Internet, a variation of goldbricking known as cyberslacking or cyberloafing. The growing prevalence of computer-related jobs, faster Internet speeds and social networking have all contributed to the growth of cyberslacking, which is estimated to cost businesses multiple billions of dollars per year. Approaches to reducing cyberslacking and improving productivity include limiting Internet access, having employees agree to acceptable use policies (AUP) and establishing results-only work environments (ROWE). 

On the other hand, some people claim that a certain amount of cyberslacking actually increases productivity because it provides employees with a break from mundane work, to which they can subsequently return in a refreshed state of mind. 

The term goldbricking originates from a saying of the late 19th century, "sell (someone) a gold brick," meaning to swindle them. In 1879, N. D. Clark, president of the First National Bank of Ravenna, Ohio, was sold a 52-pound brick, purported by the miner selling it to be gold. Clark had a corner of the brick sawed off and, since it appeared to be gold, advanced the miner $10,000. He also demanded that the seller accompany him by train to Chicago with the brick for the balance. In Chicago, however, Clark found that the miner had disembarked en route. The brick was found to be gold only on the corners. 

The modern sense of goldbricking as loafing became popular in the United States Army in the mid-20th century and has since expanded into the general population. Goldbricking became more widely used in 2013, when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer banned telecommuting because remote employees were not logging into the corporate network frequently enough. 

See also: Hawthorne effect

This was last updated in July 2014

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