For More Companies, Employees’ Online Shopping At Work Is OK

MENLO PARK, Calif. — The IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology says it’s almost the season to shop for gifts online — even at work.

The company says a survey of 2,400 chief information officers says a growing number of employers are giving in to the reality of online shopping, and allowing employees to spend a reasonable amount of time at their desks hunting down that perfect gift.

More than a quarter of CIOs — 27 percent — now say their organizations allow unrestricted access to shopping sites. That’s nearly triple the number, 10 percent, that said they allowed it just two years ago.

Another 42 percent said they allow access but monitor activity for excessive use. That’s down from 55 percent two years ago. And 30 percent now completely block access to online shopping sites, down from 33 percent two years ago.

The CIOs surveyed hailed from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees in 24 major metropolitan areas.

“Employers recognize that some flexibility is needed to help workers successfully manage their time during the hectic holiday season,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Allowing professionals to attend to the occasional personal errand at work, like holiday shopping, can make all the difference to them during this busy time of year.”

However, Reed advised professionals not to abuse work policies that allow online holiday shopping.

“Employees should still limit their shopping time on the job,” he said. “It doesn’t reflect well on any professional to be seen bargain-hunting rather than attending to business at hand.”

Robert Half Technology offers these tips for employees regarding online holiday shopping at the office:
* Learn the rules. Before you shop, make sure you’re familiar with your company’s web policy. Most employers have rules about sites or hours to avoid. If the policy is unclear, play it safe and save your shopping for before or after work.
* Limit surfing. Unrestricted access to the Internet doesn’t mean you should spend all of Cyber Monday searching for deals at your desk. If you plan to do the majority of your holiday shopping online and want to snag deals that day, take a personal day off. Or conduct your browsing away from the office and limit your shopping activity to quick transactions when at work.
* Log out of accounts. After you’ve completed your online holiday purchases at work, remember to log out of your merchant accounts on your computer to protect your personal information.

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