Online shopping is a great time-saver, but employees might want to think twice before using their time on the clock to do their holiday shopping.
A survey by Robert Half Technology found 60 percent of companies now block access to online shopping sites, up from 48 percent last year. Another 23 percent said they allow access, but monitor activity for excessive use.
“Companies are realizing how much online shopping affects productivity,” said Rich Dziuban, branch manager for Robert Half Technology. “Online shopping is up almost 30 percent this year. People only have so many hours in a day. With family and other obligations outside of work, it seems pretty easy to shop online when you’re sitting in front of a computer screen all day.”
The companies whose firms allow online shopping said they expect employees to average four hours a week surfing the web for holiday bargains. The results are based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 chief information officers from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees.
Dziuban said many of the larger corporations have purchased technology to block online shopping, while others will track the amount of time or the number of clicks on the sites.
The survey showed 13 percent of companies allow unrestricted access and 4 percent don’t know how much time workers spend shopping.
“At the smaller companies, managers often don’t know it’s going on unless they’re standing behind you, or they pass by your office and see you change the Web page,” he said.
But even monitoring employees’ computer use won’t necessarily keep a bargain hunter down, especially with Cyber Monday approaching. With an increasing number of firms blocking access to shopping sites, many employees are turning to their mobile devices to shop at the office.
“You can’t really block Wi-Fi or cellular access,” Dziuban said.
Beyond productivity, another concern for companies is security, according to Robert Half. One click on a bad link could infect the computer network with a phishing attack or virus.