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Don't be a Scrooge with at-work holiday shoppers

Now that Black Friday is behind us and the holiday gift-buying season is under way, IT managers should be prepared for users doing a fair amount of that shopping at work.

The widespread adoption of bring-your-own-device policies means that at-work shopping is all but a done deal. Because many people are using their own smartphones and tablets for work, they are feeling freer to check off items on their holiday shopping lists during the workday. Some may figure they can do what they want on their own devices.

"If it's my laptop and I'm at work and I'm having a coffee break, I'm going to get my shopping done," said Jim Melvin, president and CEO of AppNeta, a provider of services for monitoring system performance. "We're seeing more of this blending of work and home life."

The issue, though, is not that workers are using their own devices, but that they're using the company network to access their favorite retail sites -- and often, they're shopping on company time, not during their coffee breaks.

But Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research, suggests it's not something IT managers should spend a lot of time on. "I don't think it is worth worrying about," he said. "The potential for abuse is much smaller than other things, like social networking or even pornography."

The flip side of the BYOD movement is that many people now do work on their personal time, said Gottheil, so it's not really fair to refuse to let people spend a bit of work time on personal errands. "It's seasonal," he said. "Why be a Scrooge?"

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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