40% of Employees Access Blocked Sites at Work

Mobile devices most common way to get around restrictions
Blocked websites at work

While almost two-thirds of employees say their employer blocks certain websites, a new survey suggests that such restrictions aren’t quite effective.

TheBestVPN.com, a website that reviews virtual private networks — encrypted connections between your device and the internet — surveyed 1,014 employees at companies that restrict employees. While 64% of employees said their company restricts certain websites, 40% are not complying.

Adult or mature websites (84.7%) topped the list of types of sites blocked by employers. Following that:

  • Websites with illegal content (77.9%)
  • Gambling websites (71.2%)
  • Dating websites (59.9%)
  • Unsecured websites (50.8%)
  • Social media websites (50.4%)
  • Gaming websites (50.1%)

The most popular sites restricted were Netflix (48.3%), Facebook (47.8%) and Hulu (41.9%).

Employees get around restrictions

In many cases, company restrictions are being ignored. In fact, 40% of employees said they access blocked websites at work, with 34.1% of those who do saying they do it frequently or always. Younger employees were most likely to ignore website restrictions — 43.3% of those in their 20s admitting to doing so, as compared to:

  • 41.5% of those in their 30s
  • 38% of those in their 40s
  • 23.4% of those in their 50s or older

Using a mobile device on cellular data was the method most often used to get around workplace website restrictions. In fact, 89.7% of respondents used that approach. However, some employees admitted to being tech-savvy enough to get around firewalls that blocked certain websites from employees. Of those who were frequently or always able to get past a firewall, 54.5% said they used a VPN.

So why are employees using these restricted sites? Some of the reasons given include:

  • To use personally during a break (80.8%)
  • To pass time because of a lack of work (45.9%)
  • To take care of personal errands (35.6%)
  • To work on a side hustle (25.1%)
  • To purchase a gift for a housemate (9.5%)
  • To hide a purchase from a partner (3.8%)

For some employees, though, accessing restricted websites may not always be just for fun — in fact, 17.7% said they had to go around a company firewall to complete a work assignment.

Still, when it comes to affecting workplace productivity, the internet can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can make it easier for some employees to access information that can help them do their jobs, but it can also open the door to workplace distractions.

Going against workplace rules can be risky. While you might believe your actions are justified, there could be negative consequences, such as a missed promotion or — in extreme circumstances — the loss of a job. If you are accessing restricted websites because you are bored with your current role, you may want to start looking for a job that fits you better. In doing so, you might find an opportunity that not only better suits your skills, but also offers more pay.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.