Workers' Excuse for Personal Office Web Surfing: Being in the Know

December 17, 2004 ( - Supervisors may not always like it, but more than half of workers in a recent poll said they had a good reason to surf the Web for personal reasons while in the office: They wanted to stay informed.

A survey by online ad sales firm BURST! Media of 10,000 office Web users found that 56% hit the Internet from work so they could stay in the know. A quarter of employees (25.5%) said they crank up their Web browsers at the office because daytime surfing is more convenient for them while 23.2% said they did so to take advantage of their company’s high-speed data connections

Two out of five (40%) office Web users said they have used the Internet while at work to look up personal information on a product, such as pricing or features while more than one-third (37.4%) of employed respondents have made personal purchases online while at work.

The BURST! study found gender differences in workers’ personal Web use in the office. Men are more likely than women to say they have used the Internet while at work to search for product information – 45.1% versus 33.7%, respectively. Men are also more likely than women to say they have made a personal online purchase while at work; 40% compared to 34.3% of women.

Checking local or national news is another popular online activity with over half (53.9%) of respondents having done this while at work in the past three months.

Other popular online activities conducted in the past three months while at work include:

  • looking up weather information (41%)
  • looking up product information (35.1%)
  • checking entertainment schedules (32.4%)
  • purchasing a product (31.4%)
  • conducting online banking (30.9%)
  • looking up travel information (30.5%)
  • checking sports news/scores (26.6%)
  • looking up health information (26.3%)
  • making travel arrangements (21.2%)
  • sending online greeting cards (20.4%).

The survey found that 32.3% of employed men 25 to 34 years old and 24.9% of women in the same age range say they spend three or more hours per day on the Internet at work. Some 27.4% of employed 18-24 year olds (both men and women) spend three hours or more per day on the Internet, and 23.2% of employed men 35-44 years log three or more hours of Internet use per day. Among older employed segments (45 years and older), one in five (20.7%) say they spend three or more hours per day on the Internet while at work.