Survey: Most young workers use personal email for work

tech etiquette guide email

A new international survey commissioned by cloud-services company Mimecast has found that some 85 percent of employees under age 25—which the Mimecast dubs “Generation Gmail”—send work-related documents and email from personal email accounts. The results seem like common sense to anybody who’s set foot (physically or virtually) in a modern workplace, but the trend drives enterprise security, IT personnel, and corporate policy makers up the wall because it means employees—particularly younger ones—are deliberately bypassing secured corporate communications systems. And that means the company’s intellectual property and trade secrets out on the bigger (and famously unsecured) Internet.

“With social networks and personal email a ubiquitous part of their life, the way email is used by this demographic is bleeding into the workplace,” said Mimecast’s chief scientist Nathaniel Boronstein—who, incidentally, helped create the MIME standard for handling attachments and multi-part email messages. “The results show that workers frustrated with corporate restrictions are using personal email accounts in order to maintain productivity.”

Mimecast’s survey found that employees send 300 work-related email messages to personal accounts per year, about about half those messages have attachments—meaning employees are in many cases sending documents and other company materials outside the company. Doing the math, the average employee under age 25 sends three email messages a week outside a company with potentially sensitive information.

The survey also found that 36 percent of email coming into work-based inboxes has nothing to do with work, and that “Generation Gmail” generally feels their personal email works better than corporate email: 52 percent of respondents said their personal email had larger mailbox sizes than their work email, and 51 percent said they would be less likely to resort to outside email if they had unlimited email storage at work.

Mimecast’s survey was conducted by Loudhouse, which conducted 2,400 online interviews with corporate email users around the world.

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