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Survey Reveals High Level of Employee Communication Risks

A survey of 140 office based workers has revealed that unmonitored technologies such as instant messenger (IM), MSN messenger and web mail are frequently accessed and used from company computers – leaving organisations vulnerable to legal action and regulatory infringements.

Key findings include:

* IM and MSN messenger have been blocked/ banned at 29% of organisations

* 71% of employees use IM at their place of employment to discuss work with friends and family

* 36% have used IM at work to communicate with customers and business contacts

* 43% of employees have received an IM or web mail message that they were upset or offended by

* 21% of employees are not familiar with their organisations policies on IM and web mail use

* A further 21% do not even know if such policies exist

* 7% stated that there were no policies.

Electronic communications have become the predominant method of communication in the work environment and offer significant benefits. However, an inability to control the use of IM, MSN and webmail has led to many organisations blocking their usage.

Such fears are justified by the high numbers of those who use IM and webmail at work to discuss work matters with friends and relatives – meaning vital information could be leaked and laws related to information protection and publication breached.

More worrying still for organisations are the 36% who use such technologies to liaise with business contacts, including clients and partners. Anything stated in such communications cannot be proven or centrally accessed, meaning disagreements cannot be effectively resolved – and again the organisation could find itself facing legal charges from which it cannot defend itself.

The risk of facing accusations, either from internal or external sources is high – with a staggering 43% stating that they have received IMs and web mails that they were upset or offended by. In cases of sexual harassment, racism and sexism the organisations HR department may find it is unable to resolve the complaint and thus facing legal action itself.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.