This article was published on November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday shopping? Your IT department has noticed

Cyber Monday shopping? Your IT department has noticed
Dan Taylor
Story by

Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is a professional Photographer and freelance writer based in Vienna, Austria. Dan is a co-founder at Heisenberg Media and speci Dan Taylor is a professional Photographer and freelance writer based in Vienna, Austria. Dan is a co-founder at Heisenberg Media and specializes in conference photography. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter

By now, you’ve most probably had a chance to recover from the post-turkey food coma, and if you’re like me, Black Friday crowds be damned; I’m lighting up the bandwidth today to grab my Cyber Monday specials. And I can count myself amongst the majority; according to a new report by CareerBuilder, 50% of those surveyed indicated that they’ll be doing the very same same today.

Since Cyber Monday is a regular working day for most folks, I’m sure all of these consumers either grab their bargains around 8am or 6pm, right? Sure, and I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell you as well. The truth of the matter is that while slightly less than last year (52%), Americans love to cash in on Cyber Monday deals, and they’re most likely doing it from their employers’ computers and networks.

No big deal, right? “I can do all the shopping I need at ThinkGeek (free shipping alert) during my lunch hour.” If this is your actual plan, then, fair enough, but according to the CareerBuilder survey, 34% of those that do some Cyber Monday shopping from their desk plan on spending at least one hour or more browsing for deals, while 16 percent indicated that they’d be spending at least 2 or more hours shopping on the company’s dime. Both of these numbers represent significant increases from the previous year, 27% and 13% respectively.

However, those hoping to jump on the deal train at the office might be in for a shock. According to a recently published survey by Robert Half Technology, 60% of Chief Information Officers indicated that their firms “block access to online shopping sites,” a number up from 48% year-over-year. This increase in blocking online shopping at the office would appear to be a direct reaction to the previous year’s responses, when 34% indicated that they “allow access but monitor for excessive use,” whereas this year that number is down to 23% and those that “allow unrestricted access” is down to 13% from 14% in 2010.

The CareerBuilder survey was conducted by Harris Interactive, and is part of a much larger overview of “Personal Internet Use at Work – A Year-Round Problem on the Rise?” which looks into just how employees are spending their all-things-Internet time. Conducted between mid-August and the beginning of September, Harris Interactive spoke with approximately 2,700 U.S. hiring managers and human resource executives and 4,400 non-self employed, full time, non-government workers 18 years of age and older about their “at work” internet usage.

In addition to the Cyber Monday numbers cited above, the survey dug a bit deeper and looked into general, social media, and personal email usage at the bureau.

General Usage:

  • 65% of all employees’ conduct some form of non-work related Internet searching during their typical workday.
  • 22% of employers have handed over the pink slip as a result of non-work related Internet activity, a number on par with 2010.
  • 7% of all human resources managers have fired an employee based on holiday shopping.
  • 54% of employers block access to certain websites, a number on par with the Robert Half survey.

Social Media Usage:

  • 56% check their social media profiles during the day, up from 49 percent in 2010.
  • 15% indicated that they spend at least one hour per day browsing the social media landscape.
  • 32% of all employers prohibit employees about talking about the firm on social media channels.
  • 25% of all employers have tightened their belts on what employees can and can not say about the company on social media channels.

Personal Email Usage:

  • 61% of employees send non-work related emails during their day.
  • 19% of employees send 5 or more non-work related emails during their day.
  • 28% of employers monitor email.
  • 8% of employers have let an employee go due to non-work related emails.

And while you might just score that rock bottom price on XYZ HDTV for this holiday season, the question to ask yourself is, “At what cost?” As budgets tighten, economic uncertainty looms, and deadlines just keep coming and coming, perhaps it’s better to leave the Cyber Monday shopping to the comfort of your pre/post dinner wind down, and keep your eye on the prize at the office. Your IT department will notice.

To help keep you in the good graces with your IT department, HR folks, and most probably your boss, Robert Half recommends the following four steps to avoid the company “naughty list” this holiday season (and for perpetuity)

  • Play by the rules. If your employer allows shopping at work, know your company’s policy, including sites or hours to avoid, before searching for deals online.
  • Buy rather than browse. A liberal computer use policy is no excuse to spend the day filling your shopping cart. If your company allows occasional online buying, limit your activity to quick transactions.
  • Don’t get stuck on your Smartphone. Mobile devices can make it easy to get around a strict online shopping policy, but I always put work first, even on Cyber Monday.
  • Exercise caution. Any offer that looks too good to be true probably is. Avoid links or sites that could infect your company’s network with phishing attacks or viruses.

Does your employer monitor your online shopping habits? Let us know in the comments.

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