Canadian Workers Sneaking on Net

Canadian employees are spending an average of about two hours a week surfing the Web for personal reasons, according to research by Angus Reid Group, but much of their time spent online at the office remains work related.

Just over one-third of Canadian adults have Internet access at work, up from an estimated 29 percent recorded during the same time period last year. And, of this group, 78 percent have used the Internet at work for personal reasons. Internet users at work spend an average of 8 hours online per week, and of that average, at least 26 percent of that time is spent for personal reasons.

According to the survey, Canadian employees are using the Web at work for much the same reasons they use the Web at home: email, information updates, comparison shopping, and financial transactions.

“In a way, these results are not surprising,” said Steve Mossop, a Senior VP at Angus Reid. “Many consumer-based Web sites have their peak traffic during the daytime. Part of the reason for this is accessibility. If you spend a good part of your day in front of a computer, it is convenient to surf the Web at work. Secondly, it’s bandwidth. People are frustrated with home Internet access speeds, and access speeds at work are typically a lot higher.”

Use of Net by Canadians at Work
E-mail 93%
Conduct research
about industry
Search for public
info about company
Research competition 53%
Shop for company
related purchases
Conduct business
related transactions
Conduct business
related banking
Source: Angus Reid Group

The survey also found that human resource departments within Canadian organizations seem to have fallen behind when it comes to having company policies in place regarding Internet usage at work. Only 33 percent of those with Internet access at work report their company has such a policy. Yet the majority of Canadians (64 percent) feel that employers are within their rights to monitor employee’s emails and Internet usage.

The majority of Internet time spent at work is business related. Of those with work Internet access, 94 percent have used the Internet for business purposes, and they use it three times as long for business reasons (6 hours per week) than for personal use (2.1 hours per week). Business-related Internet usage comprises about 16 percent of an average Canadian’s work week.

Using email is the most prominent business-related use of the Internet — 93 percent of those who use the Internet at work indicate that they send work-related emails. Conducting research about their industry (84 percent) is the second most popular activity, and slightly more than one-half search for public information about their company (56 percent) and research the competition (53 percent). Less than one-half shop around for company-related purchases (45 percent) or actually conduct business-related transactions online (26 percent). Far fewer conduct business-related online banking (13 percent).

In comparison to the US, Canadians are much more likely than Americans to integrate the Internet into their working lives. A slightly larger proportion of Americans use the Internet at work relative to Canadians (43 percent compared to 34 percent). However, a larger proportion of Canadians who have Internet access at work have ever used the Internet for personal use (78 percent vs. 46 percent). This appears to be driven by the fact that Canadians are far more likely to send personal emails at work (32 percent vs. 14 percent).

Related reading