New Survey Reveals Most Employees Are Shopping on the Sly

About Half Will Shop at Work on Cyber Monday, But Most Try to Hide It from Their Bosses

Toronto, ON -- Come November 28, will your colleagues be banging out a report or bargain hunting? According to a new survey of North American workers by staffing firm Robert Half Technology, there’s a good chance it’s the latter. Nearly half (49 per cent) of respondents said they typically shop while in the office on Cyber Monday. Bosses may be the last to know about their staff members’ browsing habits: Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of employees admit to minimizing their screens when a manager approaches during an online shopping session.

Professionals Share Their At-Work Holiday Shopping Habits

Who’s shopping on Cyber Monday?

49% of employees say they typically shop at work on Cyber Monday

Where do they find the time?

36% have taken the day off to holiday shop

13% admitted to staying late or working from home in the evening due to time lost shopping

When are they shopping while at work?

On their lunch break: 64%
When they’re bored: 43%
While browsing online for something else: 35%
While spending time with their coworkers: 17%
During conference calls: 8%
During in-person meetings: 3%

Source: Robert Half Technology survey of more than 1,400 workers in North America. Multiple responses permitted. Only the top responses are shown.

© 2016 Robert Half Technology. An Equal Opportunity Employer. M/F/Disability/Veterans.

As for when workers are adding to their carts throughout the work day, results varied: 

  • 64 per cent say they have used their lunch break to track down deals
  • 43 per cent say they have surfed for bargains while bored on the job
  • 35 per cent say they were lured to shop while searching online for something else

For some, bargain-hunting is a group sport and potential distraction:

  • 17 per cent of respondents say they have shopped with coworkers
  • 8 per cent confess to shopping while on conference calls and 3 per cent during in-person meetings

View slideshow of the research.

Most-Used Shopping Devices

Nearly one in four (39 per cent) workers surveyed say they use a work-issued computer or device to shop online; another 17 per cent utilize a personal mobile device. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) shop with both.

Distracted by Deals

More than one in three (36 per cent) workers say they have taken a day off to do some holiday shopping. And for those who bargain-hunt during business hours, 13 per cent say they have had to work late or from home in the evening to make up for time shopping.

Terms & Conditions for Online Shopping at Work

In a separate survey of CIOs, only one-third say their companies block employee access to online shopping; 65 per cent either allow unrestricted access or allow access but monitor for excessive use. However, most employees are unaware of their firm’s stance: 55 per cent of workers say they have not been provided with company information or training around IT security or online shopping policies.

“An informed workforce is the best defence against cyber-security threats. Anticipating an increase in online shopping as the holidays approach, technology leaders must regularly reinforce IT policies to ensure all employees understand and adhere to safe practices,” said Deborah Bottineau, senior regional manager of Robert Half Technology. “While managers should always be aware of highs and lows in productivity levels, a little leeway to get gift purchases out of the way at work may offer some relief from holiday stress, as long as web policies are acknowledged and upheld.”

About the Surveys

The surveys were developed by Robert Half Technology and conducted by an independent research firm. They include responses from more than 1,400 North American CIOs and more than 1,400 North American workers 18 years or older and employed in office environments.

About Robert Half Technology

With 120 locations worldwide, Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of technology professionals for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. Robert Half Technology offers online job search services at Follow, and @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter for additional workplace advice and hiring trends.

For further information contact: Naz Araghian, (416) 865-2140, [email protected]