Employers give staff a free hand on the Net

Using email and the Internet for personal reasons may get you sacked in some offices, but many more favour a lenient policy, a study finds

Only 43 per cent of employers are currently aware of how much time their employees spend on the Internet, according to new research -- but one in three don't mind if their staff go online for non-work purposes.

A survey into Net use in the office carried out by UK ISP Star Internet also found that one in every three employers actively encourage their staff to go online for leisure purposes while at work, indicating that attitudes towards the Web are more lenient than might be indicated from recent high-profile cases.

The fact that the Net enables users to carry out personal tasks such as shopping and booking holidays more quickly than if they left the office is one reason why its use might be encouraged at work, according to Star.

Jos White, founder and marketing director of the ISP, said: "The Internet is an essential tool for maximising business processes and productivity, as well as being something which many people turn to for recreation and leisure. Many employers feel that strict policing of Internet usage is not conducive to a positive working environment, and a third actually promote non-work usage."

Another key finding from Star's research quantified the business-critical nature of email within the office. Almost one in five respondents said that their business could not survive more than a day without email, and less than one in ten thought that their business could survive indefinitely without email.

White added: "Email is obviously fundamental to business continuity and companies need to ensure its resiliency and efficacy. A coherent email usage policy should let employees know what is and is not acceptable as well as addressing the treatment of email viruses, spam and email porn so that productivity and corporate reputation is not jeopardised."

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