Businesses are being compromised by an emerging ‘Generation Gmail’ of corporate e-mail users who deliberately circumvent corporate policies.
A new cohort of social media savvy employees, Generation Gmail, displays a particular frustration with corporate e-mail restrictions, complaining that mailbox sizes are too constrained and that they will readily “work around” using personal email to be as productive and flexible as possible.
Results of an international research project commissioned by Mimecast reveal that corporate e-mail users under the age of 25 are putting businesses at risk with a slapdash attitude to company intellectual property (IP) flowing outside the organisation and being stored on public servers.
Use of personal e-mail for work purposes is pervasive, with 85% of under 25s admitting that they send work related e-mails or documents to or from personal email accounts, the highest of all age groups.
“With social networks and personal e-mail a ubiquitous part of their life, the way email is used by this demographic is bleeding into the workplace," says Nathaniel Borenstein, chief scientist at Mimecast. "So it is not surprising that expectations for workplace technology are shifting accordingly.
"The results find workers frustrated with corporate restrictions and working around these using personal email accounts in order not to affect their productivity or flexibility.”
In tandem with Generation Gmail’s appetite for technology – and instinctive desire to share and collaborate – comes a frustration with traditional workplace tools and behaviours. More than half (51%) of under-25s say if they had an unlimited work mailbox they would be less likely to send work e-mails to personal accounts – 11% higher than other age groups.
The Generation Gmail report also found that:
* More than a third (36%) of incoming e-mail to work inboxes is not work related;
* More than 300 work-related e-mails are sent per person via personal accounts each year;
* Typically, around half of these e-mails contain attachments, meaning that the average employee under 25 will send approximately three emails a week containing corporate IP and potentially sensitive information outside of their corporate environment; and
* Generation Gmail is particularly predisposed to personal e-mail; 52% rated it as better than work e-mail in terms of mailbox size, compared to just 29% of over 55s.
Borenstein, one of the creators of the MIME standard which makes modern e-mail delivery possible, adds: “Email is a vital channel, indeed the preferred choice, of communications within companies today. Although more fanciful headlines would have us believe that email is on the verge of extinction – the reality is that e-mail is embedded within company culture and will remain a core communication channel for some time to come.
“However, unprecedented change is afoot as a new generation of people who have had lifelong exposure to technology enter the workforce, bringing with them unique challenges in the provision and management of email and other technologies for companies.
"The proliferation of social networks and mobile devices has transformed the communications landscape within companies; employees increasingly mix and match technologies, using devices and platforms interchangeably to find workarounds that maximise their flexibility and productivity. Employers need to work out what they are going to do in the face of this cultural shift,” Borenstein adds.