Cyber Monday Hits Firewall in the Workplace

Almost two-thirds of employers block online shopping sites from company networks

By Lauren Steussy and Sharon Bernstein
|  Monday, Nov 28, 2011  |  Updated 1:55 PM PDT
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Cyber Monday sales are hard to resist. But some employers are forcing their workers to do just that.

About 60 percent of employers said they block access to popular shopping sites on their browsers or networks, a survey by Robert Half Technology said. This marks a significant jump from last year’s survey, which found 48 percent of employers blocked access to the sites.

And 23 percent of those surveyed said while they weren’t blocking online shopping, they were monitoring their workers’ online activity closely.

This may make a significant dent in Cyber Monday’s shopping traffic. More than half the day's online sales are expected to come from people at work, according to the National Retail Federation.

Online shopping is a major impediment to productivity at companies in the U.S., said Mark Herrera, branch manager for Robert Half Technology (RHT) in La Jolla.

“Most companies are concerned about losing work,” Herrera said. “Online shopping really hinders productivity.”

It’s fine to do shopping on breaks or after work, but when employees are on the clock, work must take priority, Herrera added.

RHT released a list of tips for workers who can't resist shopping online during work. Most importantly, employees should simply be aware of their company's policies regarding shopping at work.

However, others believe that companies may be more understanding of their employers’ needs.

“Many businesses understand that Americans’ work and personal lives are merging, and would rather have employees shopping online at work than driving all over town during their lunch hour looking for the perfect gift,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch in a statement.
 

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