A new international workplace survey has found that 83% of Australians use email, Internet, or both while at work and most are convinced it makes them more productive.
The survey by global recruitment agency, Kelly Services, found that the use of online communications has extended across most of the workforce with 71% using both email and Internet, 9% using email only, and 2% using Internet only. Just 9% used neither.
Australia's use of online communications was one of the highest of all the countries in the survey, ranking 8th out of 28 countries. However, the explosion of unnecessary and time-wasting emails was one of the biggest sources of complaint.
There was widespread acceptance that the technology has a positive impact on the quality of work. Some 64% said that use of email increases productivity, while 62% said that the Internet increases productivity.
According to Kelly Services, it is clear that use of online communications is now widespread in the Australian workplace and is contributing to improvements in productivity.
The Kelly Services Global Workforce Index sought the views of approximately 70,000 people in 28 countries including almost 2,000 in Australia.
Both men and women were equally enthusiastic users of email and the Internet. Those in the 25-54 year old age bracket were intensive users.
The survey also sought to identify the incidence of emails identified as spam, as well as those that were simply time wasting and unnecessary.
Some 35% of workers said they received high levels of emails that were either time wasting or unnecessary. While this was at the lower level of the international scale, it points to the volume of emails that are directed to people without a clear purpose.
Spam emails were less of an intrusion. Some 23% of respondents reported high levels of spam. This was at the low end of the international scale, with only Netherlands recording a lower level of spam emails.
According to Kelly Services, the survey highlights the pervasive use of online tools in the workplace.
There is little doubt that online technologies have transformed the way business operates. Many people accept this has led to improvements in productivity but there is still a big issue with the volume of email that is unnecessarily directed to people and with no clear purpose.
One positive sign is that the incidence of unsolicited or spam email is at the lower end of the international scale.
According to Kelly Services, this suggests that some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are doing a better job at curtailing the international traffic in spam. Filters employed by many organisations are also effective in blocking spam.
Like any emerging technology, it is important that managers take time to provide the training and support to enable staff to effectively integrate online tools into their daily work routine, and gain the maximum benefit.
In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, it is critical that information is widely accessible and able to be utilised effectively in the workplace. It is also vital that organisations develop policies to guide employees on the correct use of online communications.
These should cover issues such as privacy, personal use, monitoring, downloading of content, access by third parties, and illegal use of the Internet.