CIOs putting a damper on Cyber Monday


In what can only be good news for brick and mortar retail outlets, a new report shows that corporate chief information officers are getting wise to the online shopping habits of employees on the Monday after Thanksgiving and are making such activity impossible.

The study comes from Robert Half Technology, a firm the puts companies in touch with IT professionals on a per-project or permanent basis.

The company found that six out of ten surveyed CIOs were planning on blocking online shopping at their company this year, up from 48% in 2010. Another statistic confirmed a less-permissive corporate attitude: 23% were going to allow online shopping but planned on monitoring the activity to guard against excessive use, down from 34% in 2010.

The companies that plan to get into the spirit of the season and allow unrestricted worksite shopping is about the same as in 2010, and in both years the percentage is small. It has dropped from 14% in 2010 to 13% this year.

“With an increasing number of firms blocking access to shopping sites, many employees may turn to mobile devices to shop at the office,” said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology.” Reed advises exercising caution, however.  “Spending excessive time on non-business activities while at work raises a red flag for employers.”

The company offered the following tips for employees:

* Play by the rules. If your employer allows shopping at work, know your company’s policy, including sites or hours to avoid, before searching for deals online.

* Buy rather than browse. A liberal computer use policy is no excuse to spend the day filling your shopping cart. If your company allows occasional online buying, limit your activity to quick transactions.

* Don’t get stuck on your Smartphone. Mobile devices can make it easy to get around a strict online shopping policy, but I always put work first, even on Cyber Monday.

* Exercise caution. Any offer that looks too good to be true probably is. Avoid links or sites that could infect your company’s network with phishing attacks or viruses.

The survey included more than 1,400 CIOs working for companies with at least 100 employees. Those that allow online shopping are expecting employees to spend about four hours weekly engaged in the activity.

RBR-TVBR observation: Will corporate America test the capacity of the internet grid by shifting a major amount of shopping activity to the evening hours on 11/28/11? Perhaps Cyber Monday shoppers will want to have some good old-fashioned alternative entertainment – a radio, a TV, a magazine, a book – handy while their shopping search engine struggles with a virtual traffic jam.