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It might seem counterproductive to allow employees the freedom to shop online during office hours, but an increasing number of employers are doing just that.
This is according a survey by Robert Half Technology on more than 2,300 chief information officers (CIOs), from a sample of companies with 100 or more employees.
The study found 16% of CIOs gave their employees unrestricted access to online shopping sites this year, up from 10% in 2012. More than half (54%) said they allowed access, but would monitor for excessive use.
Just 29% of companies restricted access to online shopping sites this year, lower than the 33% reported in 2012.
“Employees appreciate being able to attend to occasional personal business, like holiday shopping, while at work,” John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, said.
“Workers who are given this type of flexibility may be more focused and productive on the job because they’re worrying less about getting through their holiday to-do lists.”
However, he advises bosses to keep an eye on employees to ensure they are not abusing the freedom given to them. “It doesn’t reflect well on any professional to be flagged as someone who spends a lot of work time on shopping sites,” he said.
Robert Half Technology recommended employees to first understand the company’s policy before shopping online and if the policy is not clear, then play it safe and use non-work times – like a lunch break – to shop.
Workers are also advised not to get ‘lost’ in cyberspace while shopping online, and to limit their online ‘window shopping’ by comparing prices during non-working hours.