No – this is not an article about what type of policies you should have in place for your holiday party (a favorite topic for articles by employment lawyers during this time of year). However, as I have shifted all of my holiday shopping to Internet-based retails, the ManPower Blawg points out that many company employees have apparently made this shift as well. It reports about the Information Systems and Audit Control Association (ISACA) findings on employee use of computers for shopping:

  • 63% of employees shop online using their work computers
  • 55% of employers allow online shopping but don’t educate employees about potential risks
  • 26% of employees shop online without adequately checking web site security
  • employees between the ages of 18-24 spend the most time shopping online and take the most risks
  • employers lose an average of $3,000+ in productivity per employee due to online shopping

Personally, as long as the job is getting done, I do not have much of a problem with employees shopping on-line, but it definitely can be abused. The employee who wants to waste his or her time at work will always be able to find ways to do so, and having a policy in place to prohibit this will probably not change their behavior. Also, having a policy strictly forbidding employee shopping on the internet probably hurts morale. 

But, with that said, your company’s IT infrastructure can be at risk. As the risk of infection is about five times greater for companies that allow Internet usage by staff, and surfing the internet is a greater risk than posed by email attachments. So a company’s policy needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis.  But unlike a lot of my colleagues, given everyone’s desire to be connected 24/7, I think a policy permitting internet use at work (given some boundaries) could be effectively implemented.