Headlines: August 14th, 2002

A new survey suggests that public servants have become more cautious about what they say in an email, following the Jo Moore debacle.A firm called SurfControl, which specialises in e-mail filtering and content management, produced the findings with the help of polling firm NOP.

79% of those interviewed admitted to being more wary about the e-mails they sent at work following the sacking of special advisor Moore, after an email comment that September 11th would be a good day to ‘bury’ bad news stories.

69% believed that e-mail use in the workplace would spiral out of control, with online communication prefered to face-to-face contact and phone conversations with colleagues and the public. This finding corresponds closely with Liverpool City Council’s decision to encourage staff to become less dependent on e-mail in the workplace.

The survey also revealed that 37 per cent of interviewees thought the most annoying thing about email was being copied into correspondence without the sender thinking about whether the message actually applied to them.

The study also revealed quite a high level of ‘inappropriate e-mailing’, with 31% willing to circulate e-mails with offensive content to colleagues and friends, despite risking disciplinary and/or legal action themselves or their employer.

SurfControl says that while there has been a change of attitude post-Jo Moore, the findings illustrate that there is more to do in many workplaces. It says IT and Human Resources departments should be working on an Acceptable Use Policy – communicating what is and is not appropriate use of the e-mail system for all employees within the department.

Link: www.surfcontrol.com/go/emailethics2