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Online holiday shopping at work may be huge drain on time, bandwidth

November 16, 2012 06:00 AM ET

A recent study by eMarketer showed that U.S. online shoppers are expected to spend $54.47 billion this holiday season. That's up 16.8% from $46.63 billion spent online last year.

So what's an IT manager to do?

First corporate executives need to set up policies about what is acceptable for workers to do online while they're on the clock or while they're using the company network at any time. Then they need to educate employees about those policies and set up technology to monitor the network.

They also need to know what the penalty will be if workers break the rules.

However, Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said IT managers need to take a breath and relax. This just isn't something to get that worked up about.

"I don't think it is worth worrying about," he said. "The potential for abuse is much smaller than other things, like social networking or even pornography. It's seasonal. Why be a Scrooge?"

Gottheil pointed out that so many employees are doing work on their personal time that it's not really fair to begrudge them of doing some personal errands on work time.

"If you do your job well, you should have some flexibility about your time, within reasonable limits," he added. "I prefer to manage productivity, and not try to control people."

covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at Twitter @sgaudin, on or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her email address is

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