Most people know that companies frown on using the Internet at work for personal business. But as the holiday crunch hits, the temptation to tick off a couple of items from the gift list while at work can be overwhelming.Indeed, a Shop.org survey conducted by BIGresearch found that 54.5 percent of office workers with Internet access, or 68.5 million people, will shop for holiday gifts from work, up substantially from 50.7 percent in 2006.And an Accountemps survey learned that those who admit to shopping online from work say they anticipate spending nearly three hours each week doing so.“Even though the vast majority of Internet-enabled homes now have high speed connections, shopping from work remains a key component of online holiday retail spending,” says Gian Fulgoni, chairman of data measurement company comScore. “This suggests that the privacy afforded by shopping at work, without family members looking over one’s shoulder, is one of the important factors in determining where consumers choose to shop online.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champAlso, an increasing number of retailers are feeding the temptation by offering special promotions on Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving when most people return to work). According to an eHoliday Survey, 72.2 percent of online retailers planned a special promotion for Cyber Monday this year, up from 42.7 percent just two years ago. These promotions range from special e-mail campaigns (32 percent) to specific deals (29.9percent) to one-day sales (28.9 percent). Additionally, one-fourth of retailers (24.7percent) offered free shipping on all purchases made that day.“The holidays place demands on people’s time, making it tempting to browse for gifts online while at work,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of “Managing Your Career For Dummies,” second 2nd edition. “But visiting shopping Web sites often is against company policy – employees should familiarize themselves with their firm’s rules on acceptable Internet use during business hours and use good judgment in how they spend their time.”Accountemps provides the following advice for balancing work and personal obligations during the holiday season:Know the rules. Most companies have policies that define appropriate employee use of their systems, including Internet, voicemail, e-mail and instant messaging. Become familiar with the guidelines and ask for clarification if you have questions.Plan ahead. Consider how to effectively balance your time well in advance. You may decide, for example, to request a couple of days off for errands before the holidays. Don’t procrastinate. Make vacation requests as early as possible to increase your chances of getting your desired days off.Give yourself the gift of organization. If work is light around the holidays, use the time to organize for the coming year. Time spent clearing up clutter and updating contact lists, for example, can ensure a smooth return to work in January.Dawn Anfuso is a Southern California-based business writer and former managing editor of Workforce magazine. If you have workplace or job-search questions, e-mail Dawn at [email protected] Writers will remain anonymous.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!