E-mail zaps productivity

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Almost 40% of workers in the UK, Germany and the US waste an hour a day e-mailing friends and relatives or swapping jokes online.

These are the latest ‘time-wasting’ findings from Clearswift, the company that manages content security software for email and the web.

The other 60% aren’t angels either with the majority admitting to spending up to half an hour a day on personal e-mails. Only one in 10 workers claims never to use the company e-mail system for personal purposes.

But according to the survey findings, bosses aren’t concerned. Over three quarters believe their boss would be ‘unconcerned’ if they knew about this time-wasting.

Nationality and occupation play a part. Americans are the worst offenders:

  • American, non-IT staff spend 21 days a year on personal e-mail
  • IT workers in the UK are the worst behaved, wasting 17 days a year chatting to friends online – non-IT staff in the UK spend 13 days annually
  • In Germany, IT staff spend 12.5 days a year while almost 30% of the same sample said they never send personal e-mails at work
  • IT staff were the most convinced that their bosses would be unconcerned about the extent of private e-mail use. Over 83% of IT professionals from the three countries claimed this to be the case.

David Guyatt, CEO of Clearswift commented: "In a typical 100 person company in each of the three countries, for example, the survey shows that almost 1,700 working days each year are lost because people are using corporate e-mail systems for non-company purposes. That's equivalent to about seven new full-time staff."

Guyatt advises bosses to set the ground rules in order to prevent associated issues including loss of confidential information, compliance challenges, spam and viruses and warns that inappropriate e-mail may lead to personal harassment.

A total of 4,500 people were quizzed for the survey.


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