If you noticed less work being done on Wednesday, you are not alone.
US web-retailer BizRate.com expected the day to be the busiest day on the online shopping calendar. Companies worldwide were expected to suffer as staff took time out to Christmas shop both inside and outside the office.
AC Nielsen eRatings.com pacific managing director Brian Milnes says shopping websites have been getting busier in the run up to Christmas and many US sites had set December 13 as a deadline for Christmas delivery.
In the US, BizRate.com published a survey showing 70% of respondents shopped online while at work and predicted that online sales would double this year. Recently, ACNielsen Netwatch revealed that while 101,000 people gave the main purpose for using the net as professional or business use only, a quarter had surfed in the preceding four weeks. And another US survey says 13% of staff use the net at work without authorisation for two hours a day.
However, such "cyberslacking" could get workers into trouble as software increasingly monitors internet use. Auckland-based CommSoft, whose NetMaster software can report all internet use within a business, says firms should be conscious of who is spending time on the web.
"Employers lose money through ISP costs, time in wages, and pressure on bandwidth - and very often they have no way of even quantifying how much time is spent on unauthorised web surfing," says CommSoft chief operating officer Rodney Martin.
Milnes says his firm had not yet started monitoring at work net use, so he could not say how much time workers were shopping on the net when they should be working. But he added that, personally, he waited until he got home for his online expeditions.