Can't eShop At Work Anymore

from the work-work-work dept

Yet another story about bosses trying to stop people from doing non-work related online activities at work. Apparently, many companies are trying to stop people from doing any online shopping while at work – even though studies have shown that most employees spend just a tiny amount of time doin so (1.5 hours a month). I still stand by the point I’ve made in the past – that if your employees are getting their work done, who cares if they spend a little time doing personal things? One approach, which actually makes some sense, is the guy who installed software that lets workers monitor themselves. It shows the worker how much time they spend on non-work related activities. The information doesn’t go to the boss, but helps the employee self-regulated him or herself. Most companies that are doing something, though, are going for a full out ban or using blocking software. This plan could backfire, or course, because it makes less happy workers who may actually be less productive. Also, as they point out in the article letting employees shop online means they can stay at work longer, and don’t have to rush out to the mall to buy a book at the end of the day.

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Comments on “Can't eShop At Work Anymore”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Why they have to worry

Getting work done is one thing HOWEVER, for firms that charge a customer based on hours worked by their employees, 1.5 hours is 1.5 too much. If someone charges a customer 40 hours a week for work and the customer got hold of records (think disgruntled employee or remark overheard in polite conversation) then that surfing 1.5 hours is a false charge which can lead to a law suit.

You gotta think like a lawyer as distasteful as they may be.

Steve Snyder says:

Re: Why they have to worry

I find lawyers rather tasteful–with some fava beans and a nice chiantini–(apolgies to Hannibal Lector) Sorry couldn’t help it.

That’s a good point–such firms should have billable and non-billable hours and actually have realistic requirements in terms of percentage of billable vs. non-billable. My current job is with a large company where my department bills other areas for our services, we’re supposed to get 80% of our time as billable hours. I think that’s reasonable-it still gives me time to do a few personal things (email, chit-chat, check out a few websites) along with the administrative & training stuff required for my job but not related to a project. Requiring over 90% of some one’s hours to be billed is just asking for trouble.

I really think the idea of a tool for employees to self-monitor is a great idea. The vast majority of people are honest and will do the right thing. My perspective may be a bit skewd though, I happen to really love my job.

I do agree that keeping employees happy means they’ll be more productive. However, I really think that very few companies do this–people in the position to do this (typically HR) really don’t see the long-term, big picture. And it’s not a matter of “if you don’t like it, go work someplace else” because it’s really the norm rather than the exception. I think most corporations succeed in spite of themselves.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Why they have to worry

Oh yeah. If you work in a business using *billable hours* that’s a completely different story. If you’re doing personal stuff while charging people for those specific hours, then that’s fraud. However, even if you do work billable hours, you could be more productive during those billable hours if you get to take small breaks in between (assuming you don’t bill anyone for those hours).

However, if you’re simply hired to do a job, no matter what your hours are, then it’s a different story.

argo says:

Re: Why they have to worry

Censoring ecommerce sites does not alleviate the problem you point out: 1.5 hours on the phone with the girlfriend, reading a magazine, staring into space, etc., are all equally unproductive and easily leaked to the customer paying for consulting work hours. It sounds like safeguarding the environment you are referring to would be better accomplished with keystroke loggers and hidden cameras – then you could really police your workforce! ;-O

skippy (user link) says:

Another leash from the MAN

The day I just work 8-5 M-F and NO ONE from work expects me at home to take call’s, answer questions, check email, research projects, take work home, be available when on vaction, work evenings, work weekends, work all the time, is the day I won’t have the audacity to buy a book from, or checkout what’s happening at slashdot, etc. It’s a two way street, and I’m not paid enough for 70+ hours of biz related time I spend, so I don’t see how the few break’s I take during the workday effects my productivity or my companies bottom line. I’d be happy to clock all my work related time and get paid for “just” those if that’s what my company wants – I could use the 180% increase in pay.

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