A quarter of business email is personal: study

One in four emails sent from work accounts isn't work-related, research finds

Nearly 25% of all corporate email is personal and 62% of workers send business email from personal accounts, according to a new survey.

Three quarters of workers sometimes use their work email accounts to forward jokes, photos, video clips and other non-work messages to coworkers and another 12% say they share music files through corporate email, potentially “violating copyright laws, occupying server storage and eating large amounts of bandwidth”, say survey authors Mirapoint, an email security vendor, and The Radicati Group, an IT research firm. The Radicati Group gathered the data by surveying 363 corporate email users in an online survey in September.

Coupled with an April survey finding that 33% of corporate email is spam, the new survey shows that more than half of all corporate email is not work-related, the companies say.

While it may not be surprising that many employees use corporate email for personal reasons, the practice

can cause problems, says Craig Carpenter, Mirapoint’s director of corporate marketing and global channels. There’s a perception that “everyone does it”, but the survey attempted to quantify the personal use of corporate email, he says.

Amost all (97%) of the respondents say they have personal email accounts and 25% say they regularly forward company emails to personal accounts. Also, 62% say they sometimes send business email from their personal accounts.

When workers send company email from personal accounts, they can expose their employers to a number of risks, Carpenter says. He called the percentage of workers using their personal email accounts to send out work-related email “alarming”.

Although there may be innocuous reasons for doing so, companies can’t monitor such email messages under compliance rules and employees can send out company trade secrets or intellectual property through personal email, Carpenter says.

“The vast, vast majority of employees ... are not trying to do anything wrong,” he says.

“People just don’t think about it, but this can be a challenging situation for employers.”

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