Office workers are spending up to a quarter of their time online on personal activities, rather than work, says the head of IT consultancy firm.
But most firms don't have a way to track internet activity or policies to say what staff can or can't do, says Paul Hortop from Auckland-based Voco.
The most visited sites for personal surfing at work were online trading, chat and instant messaging services and peer-to-peer sharing sites like bit Torrent.
The difficulty, said Mr Hortop, is to establish what is appropriate use.
"Is it more time efficient to let staff do their banking online than having them leave the office for half an hour?"
Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace could be both an asset to but also a distraction for staff.
Voco's analysis of New Zealand businesses found that many bosses are not aware of what staff are looking at.
In one example, a recent video of â¬SHellboy: The Golden Armyâ¬ was widely downloaded, often on corporate networks, ahead of the official release date.
"If investigators were tracking who was downloading, then the company address would turn up and the company would be the one facing legal implications. On top of that are the various internet nasties that can also arrive as part of the bundle."
Companies face lost productivity and more bandwith is consumed, slowing overall network performance.
- New Zealand Herald