Reddit – Is it Productive or Unproductive?

Productive or unproductive: Reddit in the workplace

Worried about productivity in the workplace? Are there legitimate productive reasons for being on Reddit, or is it all a time sink? In this article, I will compare and contrast the reasons why Reddit can be either productive or unproductive depending on how it is used.

What is Reddit used for?

screenshot of the AskReddit homepage
The front page of /r/AskReddit

Reddit calls itself “the front page of the internet”. This description is not far from the truth. Reddit is a social media website where users subscribe to all different kinds of “subreddits” that are tailored to a specific niche. Reddit users browse through an aggregated feed of user-submitted posts from all of the subreddits they follow. 

Examples of subreddits:

  • Explain like I’m five – Users ask questions about complex topics and receive a simplified response.
  • Ask Reddit – Users ask questions that they would like the Reddit community to answer.
  • Aww – Pictures and videos of cute animals
  • Computer Science – Professionals and enthusiasts alike visit this subreddit to talk about the industry of computer science.

As you can see, there is quite a variety of content available on Reddit. Subreddits are available for nearly any niche hobby, profession, or interest.

Is Reddit productive or unproductive?

Now that you have an idea of what it is, here’s the real question: should you let your employees browse Reddit? This section will break down the top reasons why Reddit can be seen as productive or unproductive so you can make that choice for your workplace.

A man using a laptop to browse the internet

Reasons why Reddit is productive

While Reddit is often used for entertainment, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to use Reddit while at work. There are even subreddits that are dedicated to improving productivity!

  • Topic Research: Reddit is full of pure, natural commentary. It is the perfect place to research pain points related to your company’s industry. Journalists, social media managers, and salespeople often frequent Reddit to search for information.
  • Troubleshooting: If an employee is stuck on a problem they can search Reddit for communities that might have the answer.
  • Downtime: Employees that are in roles with frequent bouts of downtime can benefit from having access to Reddit to keep them entertained while they wait. Examples include video editors waiting on standby while supervising a video render and call centers with low call volume. 
  • Short Breaks: A few minutes here and there on Reddit can help employees ramp down from an intense burst of work. So long as an otherwise engaged employee is performing well, a manageable amount of Reddit browsing can help manage stress.

Note: When reviewing BrowseReporter’s sites visited report the URLs of some subreddits may be misleading. There is no shortage of subreddits that contain the word “porn” in their title that are not necessarily NSFW. Rather, the word “porn” is used to express that the content is exemplary. Take Earth Porn for example, where all of the content is beautiful pictures of landscapes. 

Downtime is a common reason why employees browse Reddit while at work. Employees that are required to be near their workstations while they wait for assets to render, scripts to execute, or for key deliverables to be given to them will often turn to Reddit to keep them occupied.

Reasons why Reddit is unproductive

Reddit may have legitimate uses for employees, but there are potential employee productivity concerns if the site is misused.

  • NSFW Content: There are subreddits on Reddit that contain adult content that may not be suitable for most workplaces. While Reddit does offer content filtering to hide NSFW content, employees could still be accessing these communities. 
  • Cyberloafing: Some employees may harm their productivity by using Reddit excessively. Employees that are actively disengaged may even attempt to hide their Reddit browsing by pretending to be working on other tasks.

Reddit isn’t all bad but it’s not inherently good either. If you are concerned that your employees are browsing Reddit excessively you can review their internet browsing habits to see if their workload needs to be restructured.

Sometimes Reddit is used to pass the time when employee’s could be working on other tasks.

How to tell if Reddit is being used productively

BrowseReporter Sites Visited report sports and entertainment websites listed.
BrowseReporter’s Sites Visited report shows the URLs visited by employees and the time they spend actively browsing the web.

Not all Reddit usage is productive. Without a clear picture of the exact URLs visited there’s no way to understand how your employees are using Reddit in the workplace. BrowseReporter’s Sites Visited report displays the exact URLs visited and the time that employees have spent browsing each page.

Is Reddit safe to use at work?

Just as with any website that relies on user-generated content, there is a non-zero chance that Reddit can be used maliciously. That said, there are some potential security risks that you should be aware of.

  • Social Engineering: If an employee’s Reddit account is well known it may be searched for relevant information that can be used in a phishing attack. To fight against this, provide a clause in your acceptable use policy that dictates that employees refrain from sharing company information on these platforms. 
  • Malicious Links: Much of Reddit’s content is aggregated from other websites on the internet. Theoretically, a threat actor could attempt to use Reddit to share malicious links. Fortunately, much of this sort of content is filtered out by Reddit administrators and through community reports. 

Verdict – Is Reddit productive or unproductive?

As with any social media site, whether or not Reddit is productive depends on how you use it. More often than not Reddit is used for entertainment and its constant stream of content can be incredibly addicting.

Employees that are usually productive may not realize how much time they are spending on the website. Internet usage monitoring reports can be sent to employees to provide them with the opportunity to self-manage their unproductive internet browsing.

Sites visited report from BrowseReporter
Employees can better self-regulate their web browsing habits when their managers share their employee monitoring reports with them.

How to block Reddit on your office network

Use Category Filtering to block Facebook with BrowseControl web filter

If you would like to block employees from using Reddit while on company computers, these CurrentWare articles can help you get started.

Conclusion

Reddit is a website that is commonly visited by employees. In addition to memes and cute animals, there are entire communities that are hosted on Reddit that employees can access to learn more about niche topics. Reddit is also commonly used by employees to pass the time during periods of downtime in the workplace. If internet abuse is harming productivity in your workplace, employee internet monitoring software, an acceptable use policy, and a web filter can help you manage employee internet use.

Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland is a Marketing Coordinator for CurrentWare, a global provider of endpoint security and employee monitoring software. Dale’s diverse multimedia background allows him the opportunity to produce a variety of content for CurrentWare including blogs, infographics, videos, eBooks, and social media shareables.