Naughty or Nice? Online Shopping at Work

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cyber Monday and the Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays of online shopping that follow can be frustrating — and expensive — for some employers. But Claire Simmers, Ph.D., co-author of "The Internet and Workplace Transformation," says she has seen a recent shift in corporate attitudes concerning employees who shop online at work.

"When you spend over 40 hours a week at work, it's no surprise that employees turn to their office computers to get some holiday shopping done," says Simmers, a professor of management at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia.

She believes instead of focusing on workers shopping on the company’s dime, employers should turn their attention to performance outcomes.

"We've got to get away from basing performance on those eight hours," said Simmers. “If an employee spends an hour surfing the Net, but an entire weekend working on a report, there should be trust that both are equally benefiting from this relationship.”

She adds that all employers need to accept that their workforce might be doing their holiday shopping online. “If your company doesn’t already have a written policy, one needs to be created and shared with employees,” she advises.

Simmers also stressed the importance of employees using sound judgment when shopping at work, where keystrokes may be monitored by their company.

“It pays to be a conscientious consumer AND employee,” says Simmers.

Simmers is available for comment at 610-660-1106 or

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