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Online shopping at work: Good or bad?

online shopping at work

Do you allow your employees to shop online while on the job? Surprisingly, a recent survey suggests that maybe you do. In fact, according to the results, only one in three employers block access to online shopping sites.

The Robert Half survey, which interviewed over 2,400 chief information officers (CIOs) at US companies with 100 or more employees, discovered that only 30 percent of employers said that they block online shopping access completely, which means 70 percent of companies allow some sort of online shopping.

Why should you allow online shopping at work?

“Christmas shopping is a very time consuming process,” says ALTRES Staffing Manager, Emy Yamauchi-Wong.

“We’ve heard about some companies allowing their employees to shop online during their lunch break because it may actually be more efficient than the employee going out and visiting the mall during lunch.”

Time is one thing to consider; another is the positive feelings that this will have on the employees.

“Some of those companies that have allowed occasional online shopping at work, have found that it can make a big difference during this busy time of year and it has left a positive impression toward the company that lasts through the holiday season,” says Wong.

Why shouldn’t you allow online shopping at work? 

Keep in mind there are a couple of good reasons 30 percent of companies don’t allow online shopping at work. Productivity is one reason. Employers should be prepared for a loss in productivity. Also, data breaches could occur. Allowing employees to shop online on company equipment may put your company at a greater risk.

Guidelines for online shopping at work

Whatever your company’s stance on the subject, it’s a good rule of thumb to have a written policy in place. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind if you allow online shopping at work:

Limit online surfing.

When allowing online shopping, limit this to an employee’s break time and not during company time. Make it clear that it shouldn’t interfere with their productivity.

Always put safety first. 

Do not use company email or contact information to sign up or register for a retail website. Always safeguard your personal info by logging out of shopping sites on your work computer. Establish a zero tolerance policy for certain sites.

Be clear about consequences. 

Make sure the consequences of violating the online shopping policy are clearly explained, and determine a way to ensure policies are followed.

This time of the year is one of the busiest and most popular times for online shopping, so make sure that your policy is in writing and that all employees read and acknowledge the rules.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.

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