Digital Blunders: email misbehavin' is rife

No use denying it, you all do it...

No use denying it, you all do it...

We treat the office email as a toy or as a tool to avoid doing more work. Over 75 per cent of the 1,500 respondents to silicon.com's Digital Blunders survey said they've sent emails to avoid either telephone or face-to-face contact. The majority of our readers said that as a result of email, people have less interaction with their co-workers and fewer meetings with bosses. This is just one of the many instances uncovered by the survey of email abuse in the workplace. Eighty-four per cent of workers use their office email for personal reasons. Two out of five of respondents admitted to using email to gossip about a colleague behind their back and 10 per cent owned up to sending pornography over their work's email system. The survey reveals that a significant proportion of workers have a frivolous attitude towards email. Robert Bond, a lawyer specialising in IT at Hobson Audley, said that users do not take email seriously because companies fail to set clear guidelines on its use within the corporate environment. He said: "Many companies treat email almost like a common message board but don't really understand what type of communication it should be used for." Companies should also be concerned about privacy, reminded security experts, as careless attitudes can lead to serious blunders. Over a third of the people surveyed said they had hit the 'reply to all' button with disastrous consequences. One of the highest profile examples of this is the manager who accidentally sent his staff's salary details to every employee. He then had to set off the fire alarm so that he could delete the mail from each separate mailbox without being noticed. Neil Barrett, a technical director at security company IRM, said: "It might be funny to read about digital blunders but there is a serious side to email security. Confidential information can end up in the wrong hands, which can be costly to companies." To visit silicon.com's Digital Blunders site and find out just how wrong you can go with a simple email, visit http://www.silicon.com/digitalblunders where you will find stories like this one: "When I was getting divorced, my now ex-wife sent me an email telling me she couldn't afford to live in our flat and therefore wanted me to buy her out. I forwarded this to a mate, adding the comment: "Fantastic, the flat is going to turn into a Grade A bachelor pad, let's start pulling cheap sluts," and unfortunately copied her in the reply." For more email confessions, visit http://www.silicon.com/digitalblunders