Fox Valley human resources consultant says shopping online at work could cause trouble

Local HR consultant says buying on the clock is trouble

By Pete Bach. Originally printed in the Appleton Post Crescent, November 24, 2009

Employees plan to spend two full working days on average shopping online at work this holiday season, says a survey.

And one in 10 polled on behalf of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, a nonprofit group of 86,000 information technology professionals, plans to spend at least 30 hours shopping online at work. Convenience (34 percent) and boredom (23 percent) are the biggest motivators, according to those polled.

"There's a blending of work and non-work happening in a lot of organizations," said Robert Stroud, international vice president of Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based ISACA.

While Stroud neither condoned nor condemned the practice of work place shopping, he did say he could understand why the trend is mounting.

"With the Internet now available to almost any employee in the workplace, it's unrealistic to think that companies can completely stop the use of work computers for online shopping," he said. "What companies can and should do is educate employees about the risks of online shopping and remind them of their company's security policy."

ISACA said the potential danger is shopping can open the door to viruses, spam and phishing attacks that invade the workplace and cost big bucks in lost productivity and may compromise corporate data.

The survey was based on an online poll in September of 1,210 U.S. consumers and 1,513 IT professionals.

Mary Felton of Appleton, an independent human relations consultant and head of her own firm, HR Partners, said such wholesale use of work time for shopping is not the norm among Fox Cities employers.

"Most employers have an electronic communications policy which says (computers and devices) should be used for work and could be used for occasional personal use during lunch time or not work hours," she said. "And if somebody abuses that they're going to find themselves in a disciplinary action. At the organizations I've worked there haven't been issues."

Pete Bach: 920-993-1000, ext. 430, or