E-mail Abuse Widespread

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that many employees use their e-mail at work for personal reasons. Whether it’s a quick e-mail to Mom on her birthday or a note to the golfing foursome telling them the tee time for Saturday, e-mail is surpassing the telephone as the most widely used workplace communications tool.

But according to a 1999 survey on e-mail abuse by Elron Software Inc., a maker of software monitoring tools, e-mail is entering areas that are entirely inappropriate for the office and troublesome for the boardroom. While 85 per cent of the 805 respondents to the survey admitted that they send or receive personal e-mail at work, a whopping 64 per cent of them said that those packets of digital correspondence also contain sexual, racist or otherwise offensive content. But it doesn’t stop at that. Executives might be alarmed to hear what else employees are sending out.

Interestingly, just over 60 per cent of employees also said that they weren’t aware of any e-mail tracking system at their companies, while the remaining 40 per cent knew that their organization monitored their e-mails but were still sending them anyway. Big Brother may be watching, but it appears not too many people are noticing.