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Most Work Emails Not Important, Study Finds

Tim Robberts | Stone | Getty Images

You've got mail, but don't worry, it's probably not that important. The next time you get a new email in your work inbox, you may not want to drop what you are doing to answer it.

New research has found that only one in four emails is essential for work. And only 14 percent of work emails were considered critically important.

That means that nearly two-thirds of the emails in your inbox are nonessential for work. Of those nonessential emails, 11 percent are personal and 7 percent are spam. With more than 60 percent of emails considered nonessential, the potential for email-based viruses and security breaches are top concerns for an organization, according to the research. Increased use of remote and mobile email services only increases the concern.

"What is clear is that the average employee faces a significant challenge in simply processing the information that comes into their inbox and identifying which messages are genuinely business critical," said Nathaniel Borenstein, chief scientist at cloud-based email management firm Mimecast, which conducted the research. "We often end up working for email, rather than having email work for us."

"Email will remain a fundamental business tool for many years to come," Borenstein said. "It is the global standard; but not always the gold standard. It is therefore vital that email can continue to develop and adapt as technology and working practices change."

Another finding of the research was that businesses have finally warmed up to social media. Overall, 55 percent of businesses use LinkedIn , making it the most commonly used social media platform in the workplace. Facebookwas the second-most popular service, used by 47 percent of workers. One in three respondents thought that increased use of social media in the workplace resulted in a decreased use of email. However, according to the survey, social media also increased the potential for information leaks and security breaches.

The research was based on the responses of 500 information technology decision makers, 200 from the United States, 200 from the United Kingdom and 100 from South Africa. The research was conducted by Loudhouse Research for Mimecast as a part of their The Shape of Email report.

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