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The New Employee Internet (Online Shopping) Policy for the Holidays

By George Khoury, Esq. on December 19, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When it comes to the holidays, it seems that more and more employers are taking a relaxed approach to employees that do a little (or a lot) of online shopping at work. While online shopping on company time used to be so taboo that you had try to hide your screen when the boss walked by, now those sweet holiday shopping deals are like officially sanctioned hot office gossip.

Times have changed since online shopping first debuted. It is a lot more secure than it once was. Office networking and cybersecurity is also a lot better than it used to be, such that a lot of the "dangers" that employers used to worry about really aren't a factor anymore. Also, it has gotten so easy that on many sites, all it takes is a few clicks and you're done. In most office settings, it is surprising some employers consider it a fireable offense.

Smart Phones Changed Everything

Since nowadays just about every office bound employee has a smartphone of their own, it would be nearly impossible to stop employees from using those devices to shop at work, especially during the holidays when the deals are moving fast. And with the small screens and touchscreens, it could actually be more distracting and productivity killing than an open browser tab on their work computer. However, it's anticipated that way more than the reported one third of employees shop online at work regardless of policies.

Purchasing Productivity

Depending on the office environment, the holidays could result in a big slow down, or a huge rush. Regardless, so long as an employee can continue to meet their productivity goals and produce the same quality work, a little online shopping doesn't hurt even if you're slammed. Allowing it can help keep employee morale high, which can help keep productivity up during a time of year when productivity can hit all time lows.

Reign in Excessive Use and Abuse

Although it's one thing to allow employees to spend maybe an hour or two, in aggregate over a week, doing some holiday shopping online, if you notice productivity slipping taking action is easy and should be done swiftly. Rather than blocking access for the employee(s), or everyone, a brief talking to, or even just an email, can be enough to reign in the excessive, in office, online shopping of one or two employees. After all, you don't want to be the Grinch boss that shuts down a fan favorite topic of discussion around the office.

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