Working “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” and still want to shop for bargains?

Watch out, Scrooge may be monitoring you.

Scot Wingo, chief executive officer at ChannelAdvisor, founded and now runs one of the world’s largest provider of ecommerce services for retailers such as eBay, and So one would expect his company to have a liberal “shop at work” online policy.

The Morrisville company does – but it’s in the minority, according to a new survey from Robert Half Technology.

“We don’t police it,” Wingo said when asked about his corporate policy. “We trust that our employees work hard and it’s never been an issue.

“In fact, we get a lot of coupons from customers through out the holiday season that are often passed around the office.”

Robert Half reported, however, that 48 percent of chief information officers it surveyed say they block access to shopping sites from corporate networks.

Then there are the companies who embrace the big brother approach – another 34 percent say they monitor employees for what Robert Half labeled as “excessive use” of shopping sites.

Even companies that permit online shopping want employees to observe limits of an average of three hours per week.

Only 14 percent of companies permit unrestricted shopping.

The survey included 1,400 CIOs from companies in the U.S. with more than 100 or more employees.

“Many companies monitor computer use, and excessive shopping is a red flag that could put someone’s job at risk,” said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Even if employers allow online shopping, employees should use good judgment and not abuse the privilege.”

Robert Half offered four recommendations for ecommerce at work:

Know your limits. Some employers permit online shopping, within reason. Know your company’s policy, including sites or hours to avoid, before bargain-hunting on the Web.
Prevent personal information from being ‘shoplifted.’ If a holiday offer looks too good to be true, it likely is. Avoid clicking on links or sites that could infect your company’s network with phishing attacks or viruses.
Buy rather than browse. Your employer may allow online shopping, but not at the expense of your job duties. A liberal computer use policy is not a license to spend all day filling your shopping cart.
Score some deals after work. If you have projects that require immediate attention, save your holiday shopping for the evening or weekend. No online promotion is worth putting your career at risk.

Executives trying to control employees’ shopping efforts face an uphill battle even with network restrictions. After all, workers can use their cell phones or other gear for online shopping.

“Traffic trends,” Wingo pointed out, “suggest more people continue to shop from work in larger numbers.”

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