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Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Workers lose three hours to net
Woman using internet
Many workers book holidays over the internet
Nearly half of all office workers admit spending more than three hours a week surfing the internet while at work, a survey has revealed.

The study also suggested employees were risking disciplinary action by using the internet because British bosses were more likely to reprimand than European employers.

Many employees have access to the internet for work purposes but 44% admit using it for "personal interests".

Companies need to strike a balance and be aware that employees do not object to having their internet access at work managed

Geoff Haggart, Websense
Despite a number of well-publicised dismissals of workers who downloaded pornography at the office, 7% of those questioned admitted visiting an "adult" site.

Many workers want to take advantage of cheap holidays with 60% booking them over the web. And as webcasts become increasingly popular, more than a quarter of those using the internet at work admitted watching sport.

Employees distracted

But employees should be wary as the Web@Work survey said UK employers were five times more likely to reprimand staff for inappropriate use of the internet than in many other European countries.

The survey also found two-thirds of UK employers have internet access policies compared to only a third in France.

Geoff Haggart, European vice-president for Websense, who commissioned the survey, said: "The survey shows that the internet is clearly a valuable business tool for employees but at the same time it can be a distraction.

"It also shows that companies need to strike a balance and be aware that employees do not object to having their internet access at work managed."

After hours

The survey showed that 71% of workers feel it is acceptable to have the internet managed in the office.

And 73% feel it is acceptable to surf the web at work during breaks, but only half feel it is appropriate before or after official hours.

The survey was conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres, who questioned 800 workers in the UK, Italy, France and Germany.

The findings will be released on 24 April at the Infosecurity Europe 2001 event at Olympia in London.

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See also:

24 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Employers gain e-snoop powers
20 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Software targets porn sneaks
01 Sep 00 | UK
Sacked for downloading porn
10 May 00 | Talking Point
Should your e-mails be screened at work?
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