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Your boss may know about your purchase of a new shirt or a plane ticket to Iceland.

More than half of the companies here in a survey by recruitment firm Robert Half said they monitored employees’ time online at work for excessive personal use.

Some 52 per cent of the respondents here do so, while over one in three block access to some websites, according to the survey results released yesterday.

The survey of 225 chief technology or information officers in three countries, including 75 from Singapore, was conducted in the middle of the year.

It found that a larger proportion of big firms here with at least 1,000 employees are more likely than smaller firms to block access to some websites, such as online shops. Some 56 per cent of the large firms practise this, compared with 35 per cent of firms with below 500 employees.

Robert Half Singapore’s managing director Stella Tang said: “Larger firms tend to have more controls in place as they have more resources in their IT departments to establish policies and monitor employee activity.”

She said that employees’ personal activities should be weighed against their contributions. “If an employee is performing above expectations, few employers will worry about them spending a bit of extra time getting their holiday sorted out or buying a present for their family.”

Mr Brenton Ong, director of human resources at Concorde Hotel Singapore, said that personal online activity should not be done on office time and using office equipment.

But the hotel does not generally monitor employees’ Internet use, “unless the person is not performing well or there are some issues of abuse, then we may want to find out why”, he said.

Singapore residents have been revealed previously to be more emotionally connected to the Internet than others.

About 78 per cent in a survey by India-based IT service provider Tata Communications said they felt angry or anxious when deprived of Web access, compared with 64 per cent on average across five other countries.

The Robert Half survey found that Singapore employees spend around 45 minutes in an average eight-hour work day on personal activities such as shopping and checking social media.

Communications executive Nicholas L., 26, said he was not surprised that bosses keep tabs.

“It doesn’t matter whether they track you or not, the onus is on you to see if you’re spending too much time online,” he said.

He spends about 15 to 20 minutes a day surfing the Net at work. “I don’t think the company should fault you for taking breaks sometimes, as long as you get your work done,” he said.

This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on December 12, 2014. For similar stories, go to You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.