Is online shopping at work acceptable?

It's November – the month where Christmas decorations begin appearing and attention starts to turn to the holiday season. While Christmas Day is still over five weeks away, employees could be tempted to begin their online shopping during work hours.

A recent Robert Half Technology survey revealed that employers are becoming more tolerable of this behaviour – with many companies accepting that online shopping is part and parcel of everyday life.

Robert Half polled more than 2,400 US chief information officers (CIOs) to find how what their policy for online shopping was and how it had changed over past years.

The number of CIOs who allow unrestricted access to shopping sites has almost tripled from 10 per cent in 2012 to 27 per cent in the latest survey. Additionally, 42 per cent allow employees to shop online, but monitor activity for excessive use.

In fact, just 30 per cent of the CIOs polled block access to online shopping websites.

John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, explained that many employees understand that time can be tight in the lead up to Christmas.

"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," he said.

However, Mr Reed said this activity has to be in moderation and not impact on their overall productivity.

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

Robert Half presented some solutions to employers and employees to ensure they don't overstep boundaries. This included being clear about what websites or activity is appropriate at certain times of the day, limiting surfing to a minimum and remembering to log out of accounts at the end of a transaction.

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