Workers could end up on the naughty list for shopping online at work

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Cyber Monday — the Monday after Thanksgiving — is traditionally one of the biggest cyber shopping days of the year. But if you’re snagging holiday gifts on company time, better check your employer’s policy first. More companies are blocking access to online shopping sites, according to a recent survey by Robert Half Technology.

The majority (60 percent) of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed by California-based Robert Half said their companies block access — up from 48 percent surveyed last year. Another 23 percent said they allow access but monitor activity for excessive use, and 13 percent said they allow unrestricted access. Another 4 percent responded other or don’t know to the question: “What is your company’s policy regarding employees shopping online while at work?”

Among CIOs whose firms allow online shopping, these executives said they expect employees to spend four hours per week, on average, surfing for deals this holiday season. “With an increasing number of firms blocking access to shopping sites, many employees may turn to mobile devices to shop at the office,” John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology, said in a statement. Reed advises caution, however.  “Spending excessive time on non-business activities while at work raises a red flag for employers.”

The surveys, conducted by an independent research firm, are based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the U.S. with 100 or more employees. Robert Half, a provider of IT professionals that developed the surveys, offers these tips to keep workers out of trouble:

Play by the rules: If your employer allows shopping at work, know the company’s policy, including sites or hours to avoid, before searching for deals online.
Buy, don’t browse: Limit activity to quick transactions rather than exhaustive browsing.

Use caution: Avoid sites that could infect your company’s network with phishing attacks or viruses.

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