June 24, 2009 04:15 ET

UK Businesses Set to Lose Pounds Sterling 15 Billion as Workers Turn to the Internet to Find the Best Summer Holiday Deals

50% hike underlines a worrying trend for UK employers

LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - June 24, 2009) -

Editor's Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.

A third of all UK workers waste at least 20 per cent of the working day surfing the web for cheap holiday deals or catching up with friends over e-mail, according to a national survey of office workers from Internet security specialists SmoothWall. This time wasting is estimated to cost UK companies approximately Pounds Sterling 15 billion per year.

With the holiday season about to start and schools ready to break up, employers may find that staff are now at their least productive; a worrying thought as many companies fight to stay in the black. Traditionally, British workers have forfeited nearly Pounds Sterling 200 million of holidays by not using all their annual allowance.(i) According to the Association of British Travel Agents, 2009 could see this trend broken as only 7% of workers seem prepared to forego their summer holidays this year. Many are looking to escape the credit crunch for a few weeks through cheap online deals.

Research conducted in 2008 indicated that time wasting at work was already rising, with UK workers spending over an hour and a half surfing the web for personal reasons; costing the economy Pounds Sterling 10.6 billion a year.(ii) The 50 per cent hike indicated in the survey from SmoothWall is a worrying trend for UK employers. Both men and women were found to be as equally as guilty of cyber skiving with surfing the web cited as the most popular non-work activity (44%) followed by emailing friends (21%) and booking holidays online (13%).

In response to the results, Tom Newton, Product Manager at SmoothWall said: "People have less money so it makes sense that they are going to spend more time researching their summer holidays this year. With so many people receiving pay freezes or cuts there is feeling with workers that spending half an hour here-and-there is regarded as fair game".

"We would advise employers not to implement strict surfing bans, as they can cause more problems than they solve. A more sensible approach is to monitor web use - particularly search engine terms, so the serial cyberskivers can be separated out from other more responsible users and their access privileges set accordingly. Employers with US-centric filtering products should however check that the important search terms are covered. Most Americans go on 'vacations' and so UK-specific terms like 'holidays' often get missed" said Newton.

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About SmoothWall

The SmoothWall family of Internet security solutions helps enterprises and schools to prevent misuse, block objectionable content and protect against web related threats. Delivered and supported via a global network of partners in over 60 countries, SmoothWall's commercial and open source solutions safeguard more than a million networks worldwide.

(i) The Times newspaper

(ii) CBI

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