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Build Your Career Office Life

Cyber Monday Is Coming and Employers Are Watching

Cyber Monday Is Coming and Employers Are Watching
Credit: Myimagine/Shutterstock

If you plan to get some online shopping done from the office this holiday season, you might want to spend your time wisely: New research finds that there is a good chance your employer is taking note of how much time you're spending surfing for deals while on the clock.

Although they may not be restricting online access for the holidays, nearly half of all businesses are monitoring their employees' Internet use to ensure it isn't taking up too much of their time, according to a study from Robert Half Technology. The percentage of employers looking out for excessive online shopping is up from 42 percent a year ago but down from 55 percent in 2012, the study found.

Just 25 percent of employers plan to completely block access to online shopping sites this year, down from 30 percent in 2014.

The percentage of organizations giving their employees free rein has increased substantially over the past several years. The research found that 25 percent of employers are giving their workers unrestricted and unmonitored online access this year, up from just 10 percent three years ago.

John Reed, senior executive director at Robert Half Technology, said that although many employees appreciate the opportunity to get some quick online shopping done at work during the holidays, it isn't a perk they should exploit. ['Mobile Moments' Now Define the Holiday Shopping Experience ]

"Employees should recognize that most companies keep tabs on their online activity," Reed said in a statement. "Professionals should follow safe and secure browsing practices, and keep distractions at work to a minimum."

If you do plan to shop while at work, be aware that some of your colleagues might not be too pleased with you. The study discovered that 28 percent of employees believe their co-workers aren't pulling their weight when they shop on company time. 

Although they still online shop, many workers don't have a clear conscience when doing so: Thirty percent of the employees surveyed said they feel guilty about bargain hunting during work hours.

Some workers, however, think getting some shopping done while in the office makes them better employees in the long run: Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed said they are more productive when they shop online because they don't have to leave the office.

If your boss does catch you shopping online, you likely won't suffer too much of a punishment. The study revealed that, of the 24 percent of workers who admitted to being caught red handed by their boss while shopping online, only 15 percent were reprimanded for their behavior. In fact, more than 30 percent of the employees who were caught searching for deals ended up exchanging shopping tips with their boss.

The study was based on surveys of more than 2,500 chief information officers in 25 metropolitan areas and more than 1,000 U.S. workers employed in office environments.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.