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.

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