1 in 3 Americans Are Shopping Online at Work

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By Krystal Steinmetz

Americans give multiple reasons for shopping online from work, such as keeping purchases secret, not having time outside of work to shop and a faster Internet connection. But it comes with risks, too.

That's the conclusion of a recent survey by legal information website FindLaw.com, where 35 percent of Americans said the shopped online at work. Stephanie Rahlfs of FindLaw in a statement warned that shopping online while at work could give employers grounds for discipline or termination. 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 cyber-shopping on company time.

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. Mashable offers this advice: "How to Shop Discreetly at Work."

Some Leniency

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. "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:
  • 27 percent of employers allow their employees unrestricted online shopping access.
  • 42 percent allow some access but monitor the online shopping for excessive use.
  • 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.
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