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Occupational 'spam' 

Article author - Jenny Mogford

Traditionally within businesses, 'spam' - unsolicited email, has been perceived as an external problem, caused by unscrupulous marketers out there someplace on the Net.

But that's not always the case, particularly within larger organisations. A recent survey found that 34% of internal business mail is useless. They have dubbed this 'occupational spam' and apparently it's a big problem. In other words, a high proportion of the stuff that clogs your inbox at work is generated from within the company itself. Of course, much of this is done with the best of intentions and it's common courtesy to respond to an email with some kind of acknowledgement, which of course makes matters worse.

The same study also revealed that employees spend an average of 49 minutes per day managing email!

Many workers are moving toward instant messaging (IM) to communicate with colleagues. In the beginning IM began as a simple tool for teenagers to chat with each other by swapping brief messages, but IM has come a long way since then, rapidly becoming a customer service tool as well as having obvious advantages for employees. Rather than clogging up their inbox and outbox with small messages, they can whiz their 'one liners' directly to a recipient's desktop. If the person is there, they usually respond quickly so there's no waiting for replies. From a company's perspective, IM allows for quick and efficient collaboration without placing a strain on the mail server.

In a recent study of IM in the work place by Media Metrix they reported that there are currently 5.4 million people accessing AOL Instant Messenger from work, MSN Messenger is close behind with 2.7 million users, Yahoo Messenger has 1.9 million work users and ICQ, with 1.2 million.

The figures for home users of IM are even higher and as I work from a home office, I fall in to both categories. Using both MSN Messenger and ICQ to communicate with local people, friends around the world and one of our site correspondents, who currently lives in Delhi.

Whether its for work or home, it's a great way to communicate and most systems have add ins for SMS text messaging and Internet Phone facilities, both of which can considerably reduce phone bills.

May 2001




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