During the busiest shopping season of the year, you might be aware that some of your employees engage in a bit of online shopping while at work. Whether or not you allow personal activity during company hours is up to you; some bosses ban online shopping completely, while others, in the spirit of the season, relax their policies just a bit. It might be good for morale, after all, and no one wants to miss one of those terrific lightning deals on Amazon.

But if you do decide to allow a limited amount of online shopping during work hours, you should still adhere to a few guidelines to keep your network safe.

Limit online shopping to break times, and keep it low key. Putting clients on hold, expecting customers to wait, or delaying projects in the name of a good deal is obviously not acceptable. Excessive shopping in front of other employees will also encourage them to do the same, even if they’re more busy at the moment.

Limit distractions. There’s another good reason to limit online shopping to break times only. Browsing websites unrelated to work can distract attention from potentially risky tasks, such as sending and receiving emails. You don’t want employees to overlook potentially dangerous email attachments, or send important information to the wrong person.

Advise caution regarding certain websites. Only well-known, creditable websites should ever be accessed via a company network. Sites such as Amazon are generally secure, but lesser-known ones could put your network at risk. A lock symbol and “https” in the address bar indicate a secure website.

Better yet, restrict access from the company network completely. Some managers simply inform employees that they must use their data connections via personal devices, if they want to shop online during work hours. This is the safest policy, as far as your network goes.

Credit cards are safer. If you decide to engage in a bit of extracurricular shopping yourself, remember that credit is safer than debit. Most credit card companies allow for disputes, in the event your numbers are stolen, and might offer some buyer protection for purchases that arrive damaged (or don’t arrive at all).

Reserve the right to get employees back on task. Remind employees that if online shopping gets out of hand, even for one person, the privilege might need to be revoked for everyone.

Whatever you decide to do about online shopping at work, remember that a secure network is necessary at all times. Give us a call at 888-RING-MY-TECH if you have any questions about securing your network and using it safely.