Surfers beware - analysts from computer tracking company Inteco want to stop you having fun on the Web.
Graham Taylor, senior vice president of Inteco and author of the company's latest report on electronic commerce in Europe, has warned that Internet access rules must be made tougher in UK companies to retain the country's competitive edge, because employees are abusing work time and facilities to explore the Internet for private purposes.
"The policies in place on Internet access aren't very restrictive, and must be tightened up if productivity isn't going to suffer further," he cautioned.
"Around two million people in the UK have Internet access at work and more than half of the recent users have used it for personal activitities, the highest proportion of any European country we have surveyed," he added.
Inteco's research questioned over 2,000 Internet-using employees in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK about their employers' policies on Internet access.
Nearly 25% of employees in each country said their companies permit non-business use of the Internet. However, the UK seems to be ahead of the rest in implementing rules on Internet access. Company rules on Internet usage are in place in over three-quarters of UK companies. But in Germany, 29% of those questioned claimed their employer had no Internet policy, and a further 22% claimed to be unaware of any. In France, 13% of employees said they do not have an Internet policy, while a further 20% were unaware of one.
A directive permitting 'official company activities only' is in place in 11% of French and German firms, and 16% of those in the UK. For over a third of UK Internet users, the rule of thumb is that accessing 'anything judged to be work-related' is allowed.
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