Pew finds email remains ‘very important’ for online workers

Dec. 31, 2014

Email remains one of the most important communications tools among online workers, despite the proliferation of spam and competition from social media, according to survey results released today by the Pew Research Internet Project. Of survey respondents, 61% consider email “very important” for doing their jobs, vs. only 4% who consider social networking sites to be very important.

Email outpaces telephony in importance—only 35% and 24% consider the landline and cellphone (or smartphone), respectively, to be very important. 54% call “the Internet” very important, although what that means is not clear from the results—general surfing?

The survey covered “online adults who also have full- or part-time jobs in any capacity,” according to Kristen Purcell and Lee Rainie, writing at Pew Research Center. They note that email and the Internet are particularly important to workers holding traditional white-collar jobs and critical for employees who often or occasionally work offsite.

The Internet, email, and cellphones, Purcell and Rainie report, allow workers to expand the number of people outside the company they communicate with (51% said this), allow them more flexibility (39%), and result in an increased number of hours worked (35%).

Only 7% of respondents said the Internet has hurt their productivity; 46% claimed it has increased their productivity, and another 46% said it has resulted in no change.

As the Internet proliferates, employers are becoming more concerned about how their employees represent themselves online, the survey concludes. Today, 46% of respondents say their companies have rules about online presentation, vs. only 25% in 2009.

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