Personal email equal to work docs: study

Personal email equal to work docs: study

By Alicia Camphuisen

Human resources firm Morgan & Banks has released a survey of corporate email use, which indicates that more than 35 per cent of all emails sent from offices are of a personal nature.

A further 35.3 per cent of emails are for business correspondence, and 29.5 per cent are classed as a research tool.

Morgan & Banks joint Melbourne IT director John Rawlinson acknowledged that personal email use would reduce the amount of time devoted to personal telephone calls at work. He conceded, however, that the firm's interaction with companies has suggested that personal emails are still consuming employee time. Some of these companies estimate that "one day per worker per week is taken up reading, responding and sending emails", Mr Rawlinson said.

He also observed that while email is often considered an aid to productivity, more corporate email users are finding their time is devoured by sifting through and responding to personal or junk email.

But as Morgan & Banks IT recruitment manager Ian James said, the impact of email is not all negative: it has persisted as a tool to facilitate the flow of information and knowledge around a company. As email does not discriminate between recipients, it also makes the same information available to everyone. This can be a double-edged sword, as the ease with which mail can be sent to all recipients in an enterprise can add to the junk email floating around in the system.

Mr James maintained that email is "a great communication tool", and that the charge of using it responsibly rests with users as they deal with what is still fairly novel technology. "Email is fantastic as a resource tool and for business correspondence - 40 per cent of our incoming business correspondence is by email," said Mr James. "[But] you have to discipline yourself as to how you use it."

The responsibility of reducing personal email evidently rests with everyone in the enterprise: the survey found no difference in the use of personal emails between various positions, from general managers, through sales, finance and administrative departments, to the secretary or assistant.

More than 500 people across the country responded to Morgan & Banks' survey, which existed as an online form accessible from the company Web site.