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More firms block employees' ability to shop online

If you have Internet access to stores, it's best to assume you are being watched.

November 22, 2011|By Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times

If you have small children, a full-time job and an interest in keeping up fashionable appearances — prepare for some bad news: The era of sneaking in some online shopping at work may be coming to an end.

A recent survey by Robert Half Technology, a company that helps businesses find information technology professionals, found that 60% of more than 1,400 chief information officers interviewed said their companies block access to online shopping sites — up from 48% last year. And an additional 23% of CIOs said that although their companies do allow access to shopping sites, they monitor employees for excessive use.

Andy Riabokin, the Los Angeles branch manager of Robert Half Technology, said he doesn't find the results of the survey surprising.

"Online shopping has been on the rise for about 10 years," he said. "The fact that a little more than half of companies are restricting it makes sense."

It turns out all this surreptitious online shopping can add up to some serious time. CIOs who work for firms where online shopping is not blocked said on average they expect employees to spend four hours a week surfing the Internet for deals during the holiday season.

Riabokin suggests that people who work at companies that do not restrict access to shopping websites still be mindful of the time they spend on them. If you work for a company of a fairly substantial size, you should assume that your company is either tracking your every move online or at least has that capability.

"Rest assured that everything you click on is being watched," he said. "So don't be surprised if you get a note from HR that says, 'We notice you've been on a certain site a lot.' They can track your every move."

deborah.netburn@latimes.com

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