Cyber Monday means different things to different people. To consumers, it may mean the increasingly popular option of convenient shopping. To workers, it may mean shopping on the sly at work to catch the best deals, but being less productive. To employers, it may mean it’s time to review workplace policies.

Cyber MondayA new survey from Robert Half Technology reveals information on habits of at-work shoppers. To explore online shopping habits at work and how they align with corporate policies, 1,400 North American professionals and CIOs were surveyed.

Of those surveyed, 49 percent said they typically shop from work on Cyber Monday, with 39 percent of those employees using a work-issued computer or other device.

Workers are missing deadlines, ignoring phone calls, or staying late to play catch up — all due to online holiday shopping.

Sixty-four percent of people said they shop on their lunch breaks, but some are missing out on prime time work productivity. Eight percent are shopping during conference calls, 17 percent are shopping while spending time with coworkers, 35 percent are shopping while online for something else, and 43 percent are shopping while bored. Sixty-five percent will minimize their screens if their boss comes along, and 36 percent will take the day off work altogether to complete their holiday shopping.

While many companies block their employees’ access to online shopping sites, some CIOs (65 percent) said their companies allow online shopping.

To manage this issue and avoid lost productivity, Sara Eide, regional vice president for Robert Half Seattle and Bellevue, said there are key points to think about for both workers and managers.

Eide emphasized that, as a manager or boss, it’s important to clearly communicate company policy, especially with the holidays quickly approaching.

“Make sure even new employees, and everyone with the holidays coming, know your policy and that you keep talking about the policy and reminding everyone of the policy.”

She also offered the tip of staying flexible, saying she personally thinks leaving some freedom in the company policy may lead to more efficiency and productivity.

“If you allow just a bit more flexibility, then I think it’s easier to control,” Eide said.

For example, if an employee has personal errands that need attending, it saves time to take care of them online rather than leaving the office for what could take several hours. After swiftly handling such matters online, the employee can return to work much more quickly, she said.

But, more than anything, Eide said it’s important to make sure you know the rules. Many employers are okay with some online shopping, as long as it’s quick, not excessive, and doesn’t hinder productivity.

“Know the rules before you shop,” she said. “If online shopping is absolutely against the policy, then employees should definitely be aware and familiarize themselves with that. And if you know that there’s surfing and online shopping you need to take care of that would take over the productive times of your day, then you should probably take a personal day.”

In general, she said the best thing to do is shop when you have the time, and when it won’t cut into your work.

“A good rule of thumb is do it in off hours, like your lunch or before or after work,” she said. “But if it hinders your productive hours, or your meetings or phone calls, then it’s obviously not okay.”