Far fewer CIOs blocking holiday shopping at work

Policies have become dramatically more lenient, survey says

Last year, 60% of CIOs polled said their companies block access to online shopping sites. Today, only 33% block access to retail sites, according to survey data from staffing firm Robert Half Technology.

The holiday buzz is building, and with it comes the annual question about whether employees should be able to shop online during work hours. This year, far more companies are being tolerant, CIOs say.

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Last year, 60% of CIOs polled said their companies block access to online shopping sites. Today, only 33% block access to retail sites, according to survey data from IT staffing specialist Robert Half Technology. More than half (55%) said their companies allow access but monitor for excessive use, and another 10% said they allow unrestricted access to online shopping sites. (The remaining 2% of respondents said they don't know.)

There's a need for flexibility during the hectic holiday season, and more companies are recognizing that and allowing some online shopping at work, "within reason," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement.

Meanwhile, according to Deloitte's annual holiday survey, 45% of consumers intend to shop online as part of their 2012 gift-buying sprees.

Online shoppers are much bigger spenders than their in-store-only counterparts, Deloitte found in its survey, which polled 5,089 consumers. People who plan to shop online (using both desktops and mobile devices) and in stores expect to spend an average of $600 on gifts, while those who plan to shop only in stores are budgeting $350 for gifts.

Some other findings of the Deloitte survey:

* 23% of consumers will do more than half of their holiday shopping online.

* 11% will shop online with a tablet device.

* 48% will use social media to assist with holiday shopping.

* 68% of smartphone owners will use their smartphone to help with some aspect of holiday shopping.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and check out her blog, Occupational Hazards. Her e-mail address is abednarz@nww.com.

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