Naughty Or Nice? Online Shopping at Work

Monday, November 30, 2009

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, chair and 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," says 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 also use their personal cell phones and/or PDA’s to shop for gifts. “With mobile technology, it’s a whole new ballgame,” says Simmers. “Instead of holiday shopping on the company computer, many employees will use their personal technology to shop for gifts. For an employer to police that kind of activity is nearly impossible.”

Consumer Tips for Online Shopping

For consumers who do a lot of their holiday shopping online, Simmers recommends obtaining a credit card for online purchases only. “Don’t take this credit card into a bricks and mortar store,” she warns. “This will help you directly monitor online purchases and will also reduce your risk of identity theft.”

For online deals, Simmers recommends the following sites:

Websites that list the deals

Online printable coupons Websites that send offers for coupons

Media Contact

Simmers can be reached for comment at 610-660-1106 or or by calling University Communications at 610-660-1355.

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