According to a study done in recent years by Bloomberg Businessweek (www.businessweek.com) and a division of the National Retail Federation, more than half of employees who have Internet access at work will shop for holiday gifts from the office. This number increases on the infamous “Cyber Monday”. With this large percentage in mind, many employers may find themselves asking what type of impact this internet usage will have on their business during the holiday season.
Per Bloomberg Businessweek, small business owners raised two main concerns. The first being online security. Many small business owners are concerned with their internet network usage being bogged down and slowed by their employees utilizing the company network for online shopping. Some also are concerned with employees unknowingly clicking on various links, which may cause an unexpected virus or malware download.
The second issue raised by employers was that of productivity. Computers are often a necessary tool for employees to be successful in their roles with the organization. However, it is all too tempting for some employees to sit by a computer for 7-9 hours a day and not cross off a few people from their Christmas shopping list. Some compare it to putting candy next to a child and saying “Please do not touch that Chocolate!”. Easier said then done…. In terms of productivity, if a company were to have 10 employees, that all worked 40 hours per week, that is a total of 400 “worked hours” put in on a given week. However, if each employee spent 2 hours per day online, that is 100 hours per week that employees spend online. A productivity decrease of 25%.
With this in mind, what actions should your company take, to ensure that productivity and security is not in jeopardy during the holiday season? Some steps for “ramping up” online security could be making sure that your company internet network and system has a strong anti-virus software system in place, for all computers and internet traffic. Also, make sure your computers are all up to date, this will increase speed and efficiency with the anti-virus software.
In terms of productivity, naturally employers want to be fair to their employees. In order to be fair, you should put an online internet usage policy in place and inform your employees about this policy. Make sure it explains when it is acceptable to utilize the company internet and when it is prohibited. Also outline to what degree employees are able to use the company internet. Are they only allowed to check their emails, or can they visit various sites for shopping etc.? Is this only during their lunch hour?
Consult with your Human Resource Department or Legal Department and make sure that as we are in full swing of the 2013 Holiday Season that employees know what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, when it comes to their utilization of their company’s internet!