Employees are putting their companies at risk by their ‘social’ approach to web based email, according to new survey results.The international research project, commissioned by Mimecast, which supplies Cloud based email security software, revealed that a new cohort of social media savvy employees, labelled as Generation Gmail, work around corporate email restrictions imposed by their companies and use their personal email in an effort to be as productive and flexible as possible at work.

Those under 25 are said to be the heaviest offenders, with their slapdash attitude to company intellectual property, which is often sent via personal email accounts and stored on public servers.

85 percent of those under 25 admit they send work related emails or documents to or from personal email accounts.

“With social networks and personal email a ubiquitous part of their life, the way email is used by this demographic is bleeding into the workplace.  So it is not surprising that expectations for workplace technology are shifting accordingly,” commented Nathaniel Borenstein, Chief Scientist at Mimecast.

“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.” 

Generation Gmail’s appetite for technology, combined with their instinctive desire to share and collaborate leads to a frustration with traditional workplace tools and behaviours, according to the survey, which was conducted through interviews with 2400 corporate email users from the UK, US, South Africa and Canada.


51 percent of the Under 25 age group said if they had an unlimited work mailbox they would be less likely to send work emails to personal accounts.

The Generation Gmail report also found that more than a third of incoming email to work inboxes was NOT work related.

Employees also sent more than 300 work-related emails per person via personal accounts, half of which contained attachments enabling corporate IP and potentially sensitive information to flow outside the corporate environment.

Generation Gmail was said to be particularly predisposed to personal email; 52 per cent rated it as better than work email in terms of mailbox size, compared to just 29 per cent of over 55s.

Borenstein, one of the creators of the MIME standard, which makes modern email delivery possible, continued: “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 email is embedded within company culture and will remain a core communication channel for some time to come.”

And companies face an increasing battle of unique challenges in providing email and other communications technologies, Borenstein said.

“Unprecedented change is afoot as a new generation of people who have had lifelong exposure to technology enter the workforce. 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,” concluded Borenstein. 



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