RealTime IT News

E-Commerce Benefits from Surfers at Work

The "shop while you work" phenomenon is expected to grow during the holiday season. Implementing workplace policies can help employers protect their bottom line.

Last year, 17 percent of online holiday shoppers made their purchases from work, according to a report from Forrester Research. This year, that figure is expected to increase.

The effect this has on a business can be devastating, according to Kevin Blakeman, president U.S. operations for SurfControl, a provider of Internet monitoring devices.

"If you couple the 55 million online consumers expected this holiday season with the fact that 42 million Americans have Internet access at work, it's not hard to imaging a good number of those Net-connected employees will be doing some holiday shopping," he said. "The ramifications can cause major headaches for businesses, including lost productivity and consumption of precious bandwidth."

About 40 percent of workers' productivity was lost due to personal use of the Internet, according to a survey conducted by SurfControl. "We also found that 75 percent of works with Internet access reported that their personal use of the computer slows the company network down," Blakeman said.

Blakeman urges businesses to coordinate an Acceptable Usage Policy that will allow employees to do some shopping during the workday, such as during lunch or after hours, while maintaining the expected level of productivity.

Here are his suggestions for developing an Acceptable Usage Policy:

  • Include representatives from every aspect of the business to create a set of rules that benefit everyone.
  • Clearly define the do's and dont's of Internet use within the organization.
  • Designate a person in charge of enforcing the policy.
  • Communicate and educate employees on the policy.
  • Consider utilizing Internet management tools to help enforce the policy.

"Filtering software can help companies manage their employees' Internet usage by setting specific times and sites employees can access during the day," Blakeman said.

Mondays and Tuesdays are the peak shopping days, according to a survey conducted by BizRate.com. The survey additionally found that 70 percent of respondents performed online shopping during their working hours.