Can you imagine a world without email? Not that long ago (prior to 1995) it did not exist for the masses. Today it is everywhere and most of us have at least 2 email accounts. However there have been ripples out there predicting the demise of email and there are some very real and legitimate reasons to consider this possibility.
Today about 6 in 10 Internet-using workers in the U.S. list email as “very important” to doing their jobs, topping the list of most important work tools, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
Email even outranked the Internet for most workers, which 54 percent called very important, and ranked well above mobile or smartphones [24 percent] as well as social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, which only 4 percent of workers found important. Surprisingly, the use of landline phones outranked mobile phone usage: 35 percent of respondents marked landlines as very important.
Despite email users being subject to hack and phishing attacks as well as spam, it continues to be the primary communication tool that workers believe is important to their jobs, Pew said. Since taking hold a generation ago, email has not loosened its grip on the American workplace, the research group said.
The analysis in the report released earlier this week is based on an online survey in September of 1,066 adult Internet users over 18. The respondents included 535 adults employed full-time or part-time, forming the base of the report.
The Case for Email
One of the findings here and one that I agree with it is that using the Internet does not lead to distractions in the workplace and does not affect productivity. Just 7 percent feel their productivity has dropped because of the Internet, email and cell phones, while 46 percent felt more productive, despite critics worrying that digital tools can be a distraction, Pew said.
What’s more, more than half of the workers said that Internet, email and cell phones expand the number of people outside of their company they communicate with. And almost 40 percent said the tools allow them more flexibility in the hours they work, while 35 percent said they also started working more hours due to the digital tools.
The Case against Email
Meanwhile, employers are now starting to change practices regarding employees’ Internet and email usage. Just under half of those surveyed said their boss blocks access to some websites, and 46 percent said there are rules about what workers can say or post online. The latter figure more than doubled since Pew began asking about company rules in 2006.
Email has become the most serious security concern for employers today. The problem here is that most people have become unwisely comfortable and trusting of email. Because of this hackers have begun using email as the transport device for malware, Trojan horses, viruses and more. To make this situation even worse is that people have gotten lazy during the past decade and have begun using one email account, usually their employers. This situation has placed email in the position of being one of the primary security risks for organizations today.
I unlike others do not believe email should go away but I do believe that the time has come for organizations and individuals to take email use and security very seriously. Only this will save the future of email. So what do we do to save the invention of email? It is really not that hard.
- Users must separate their personal lives from their professional lives in respect to email. A separate email account for work and home is a must and should be required by employers.
- Users must familiarize themselves with good email security. Do not click on unsolicited email attachments and hyperlinks.
- Employers must implement sound email monitoring and compliance policy and procedures.
You can see that I only have three “rules” here. Of course these can be expanded but here we have the means to keep email alive, safe and secure.
You can read the Pew Research Report here.