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Email Is Turning 40, Employees Still Can't Use Email

It's the 21st Century and you'd think we would have a handle on the whole email thing by now.

But not if you're an employee, according to a new survey by Chicago software company VaporStream that asked employees about their email habits and mistakes.

The survey reveals that roughly 60% of employees have mistakenly hit "reply all" when they meant to reply only to the person who sent the email, and 10% have sent confidential company information accidentally. Jim's going to get fired tomorrow, and now everyone knows! Oh, great. No word on how many employees have followed up with a frantic "I would like to recall my previous message" type of email, or maybe public relations people are the only ones who do that these days. Hey, who said mastering technology is easy?

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VaporStream also reveals that more than 50% of employees have sent sensitive and confidential personal emails that aren’t related to their jobs. Honey, did you call the insurance company to see what Junior’s insurance rates are going to be now that he’s totaled the car? By the way, can you buy an enema kit for me while you’re at the store? I’m a bit backed up lately. Thanks! We all know people who send emails like this from the comforts of their work computers, don’t we?

Thinking before you send is always a good idea, however, because one in five employees surveyed still feels haunted by an email sent at work. Nearly half (45%) say they’ve been in awkward co-worker situations after one of their emails got forwarded inside the company. A whopping 82% of employees like to print out their emails, too. That’s a lot of emails forgotten in the company printer, not to mention a lot of dead trees. Oops.

Now for the best part: Roughly three-quarters (73%) of employees ignore the employer’s rules governing email use. So employers can make all the rules they want and it’s not going to matter very much, apparently. But at least management will know who needs a laxative, right? With any luck, the same email won't flush out any of the company's intellectual property.

On a side note, email is about to turn 40. Feel old now?

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