Risky Business: Online Shopping at Work

The temptation to shop online while at work gets much stronger at this time of year. Despite the known risks, many of us do it on the sly anyway — like using a cell phone while driving.

In fact, 1 in 5 workers (21%) said they will shop online for holiday gifts this year while working. The statistic comes from a new survey, conducted by financial staffing firm Accountemps, that was released a week before Cyber Monday — typically the biggest day of the year for online shopping.

After Cyber Monday last year, 41% percent of Yahoo! HotJobs users said in an online poll that they had made a personal online purchase while on the job.

Shopping at work may violate workplace policy for many employers, but the rule is often hard to enforce.  And it's so easy to pop over to a retailer's site and knock off a few stocker stuffers from your list, right?

Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of "Job Hunting for Dummies," has some good words of caution:

"While some companies look the other way when employees browse retail sites in moderation, online shopping is frequently against company policy. Workers need to familiarize themselves with their firm’s rules on acceptable Internet use during business hours and follow these guidelines throughout the year."

To help minimize your risks, check out some of the useful ideas in the article "Cyber Monday Survival Tips for the Office."

Here's a good one from Charlie Graham, CEO of Shop It To Me: "Arrive at work early on Cyber Monday to do quick sales checks. Then, shop on your lunch hour, during breaks, or at the end of the work day."

And here's another, courtesy of yours truly: "Ask yourself, 'Is the discount I'll get right now on this scarf worth getting fired?'"

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