1 in 3 Americans Are Shopping Online at Work

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Man working remotely on computer at night
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Americans love to shop online, and many are doing it on company time.

According to a recent survey by legal information website FindLaw.com, 35 percent of Americans admit to shopping online from their workplace.

Keeping purchases secret, not having time outside of work to shop and a faster Internet connection are Americans’ top reasons for online shopping from the office.

But Stephanie Rahlfs of FindLaw said in a statement that online shopping at work comes with its own set of risks.

Shopping online while at work could give employers grounds for disciplining or even terminating employees. Most workplaces have policies restricting employees’ use of the company Internet for personal uses. In addition, even if such policies are not explicitly stated, it’s a safe bet that most employers would frown on employees cybershopping on company time.

Online shopping at work isn’t just a holiday thing. “The vast majority of people who let their fingers do the shopping while on company time say they do it year-round,” FindLaw said.

Just how much time is online shopping sucking out of the work day? According to Ebates, 16 percent of Americans said they spend an hour or two each week shopping online at work, while 14 percent spend three to four hours a week, and 4 percent said they spend a decent chunk of their work time, five to seven hours per week, online shopping from their office.

According to Cleveland.com, some employers are lenient when it comes to their employees’ online shopping, as long as they’re not spending an exorbitant amount of time scrolling through retailer sites.

“One of the reasons most employers are lenient regarding shopping at work is that senior management is more likely than their rank-and-file employees to do the shopping,” Ryan Hunt, senior career adviser at CareerBuilder in Chicago, said in an email to Cleveland.com.

Robert Half Technology, an international information technology staffing company, recently asked employers about their company policy regarding online shopping. Here’s what they said:

  • Unrestricted shopping access. Twenty-seven percent of employers are allowing their employees unrestricted online shopping access.
  • Limited access. Forty-two percent allow some access, but monitor the online shopping for excessive use.
  • Blocked access. About 30 percent of employers block access to online shopping sites.

“It is part of a growing trend allowing more flexibility, to increase not only employee satisfaction, but ultimately employee productivity while at work,” Eric Younkin, Cleveland branch manager for Robert Half Technology, told Cleveland.com.

Online shopping on company time is so popular that Mashable had a recent post titled “How to Shop Discreetly at Work.”

Are you surprised to see how many people online shop from work? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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