December 10, 2003, 12:00 AM

Most companies do not restrict online shopping at work, survey says

67% of companies that SurfControl surveyed said they do not restrict employees` access to online shopping sites. More than a quarter of employed adults shop from work, says a new survey from Yahoo Shopping.

Online retailers who see their sales volume jump on Mondays after consumers return to work after the weekend and log onto shop over broadband access--that is, almost all online retailers--can breathe a sigh of relief with the latest shopping-at-work survey from SurfControl. 67% of companies that SurfControl surveyed said they do not restrict employees` access to online shopping sites. SurfControl provides web-access control software.

The survey of 1,300 U.S. companies that use web-access control software also revealed that 70% do not restrict employees’ access to eBay and other auction sites.

Web-access control is used mostly to restrict access to sexually explicit sites and web-based e-mail such as Yahoo and Hotmail. 97% of the companies responded that their policies specifically restricted access to sexually explicit web sites, while 45% said they restricted access to Web-based e-mail.

"While the Internet poses numerous risks, it`s clear that corporate America does not consider shopping as much of a risk as pornography and web-based e-mail, both of which can present a liability risk to the organization," said Susan Getgood, SurfControl`s senior vice president of marketing. "The results suggest that companies are more tolerant about online shopping and focus more on monitoring abusers. It appears many firms are trusting employees to use good judgment about how and when they use the Internet at work, as long as it doesn`t become a productivity issue."

Researchers IDC estimate that 30-40% of employees` Internet use is not business-related.

SurfControl also surveyed 1,400 British companies and found 61% don`t restrict employees` Internet access to shopping sites, while 97% restrict access to sexually explicit web sites.

In fact, a new survey from Yahoo Shopping conducted by Harris Interactive revealed that more than a quarter of all employed online adults will do some of their holiday shopping online at the office this year, and 56% say their bosses are aware of the shopping activity.

The survey also reported:
--Of people who holiday shop online at work, those in the 35-44 age group are the most active with 36% indicating they intend to do some holiday shopping from work.
-- 29% of men and 26% of women shop online for gifts at work.
-- 33% of working adults in the Northeast shop online from work, 29% in the South, 23% in the West and 26% in the Midwest.
-- 57% of respondents who holiday shop online at work do so during the lunch hour or when they`re on break, 24% say they are likely to stay late at work to shop online. 29% of single people and 19% of married people will stay late to shop.
--70% of shoppers in the South said shopping online at work is OK with their bosses, 54% in the West, 45% in the Northeast and 52% in the Midwest.

The Yahoo! Shopping survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive from Nov. 5-7 is based on responses from 2,281 U.S. online adults ages 18 and over, of whom 1,537 were employed.


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