More Than Half of Workers Say Their Companies Allow Access to Social Networking, Shopping, and Entertainment Sites

Does access to non-work related websites make for distracted employees? Many businesses aren’t concerned, according to a new survey done by staffing service OfficeTeam.

Fifty-three percent of professionals interviewed said their company does not block social networking, shopping, and entertainment sites. For those whose employers do, more than one in five (22 percent) admitted to frequently using their personal mobile devices as a workaround.

 The survey of workers was developed by OfficeTeam and conducted by an independent research firm; it involved telephone interviews with 449 adult workers employed in office environments (multiple responses were allowed). 

Workers were asked, “Does your company block access to the following websites?” Here is how they responded:

Social networks — 31%

Entertainment sites — 26%

Online shopping sites — 23%

None of these — 53%

Workers whose companies do block access to some sites also were asked, “How often, if ever, do you use your own personal devices at work to access websites that are blocked by your company?” Their responses:

Very often — 9%

Somewhat often — 13%

Not very often — 20%

Never — 58%

“Even if companies don’t block access to certain sites, they may be monitoring employee activity for excessive use,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Professionals should be mindful of how they are spending their time while at the office. Surfing the Web might provide a nice break from work, but it should never get in the way of it.”

OfficeTeam advises workers to use good judgment when accessing the Internet for non-business purposes. Here are their five tips:

1. Get in the know.
Familiarize yourself with corporate web policies. Also, assess the culture: Some organizations encourage their employees to leverage social media as a business tool, while others frown on it.

2. Assume someone’s watching. Just because nobody’s looking over your shoulder, doesn’t mean your online activity isn’t being tracked. Most companies monitor their employees’ Internet use. Avoid spending excessive time on the Web for personal matters.

3. Don’t overshare. Resist the urge to forward cute kitten videos or other irrelevant Internet “gems” to coworkers, and never send objectionable content.

4. Think outside the boxes.
Lots of retail deliveries at the office could make your manager question whether you’re bagging all of the bargains on your own time.

5. Keep an eye out. Be wary of suspicious emails or downloads that may cause viruses or other security concerns. Alert your information technology team if anything looks amiss.

> For more tips, read “Beware the Wandering Mouse.”

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