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E-mail addicts losing sense of propriety, risk

More people are checking their e-mail at less than appropriate times--while driving, going to the bathroom, and even during "intimate moments," according to survey results.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Do you check your e-mail while driving or during an "intimate moment?" If so, you may be one of many e-mail addicts.

E-mail addiction is causing people to engage in risky or inappropriate behavior, according to a study conducted by Osterman Research and commissioned by Neverfail. Released on Wednesday, the second annual "Mobile Messaging Study" surveyed employees at businesses to learn about their e-mail habits.

The study found that 95 percent of those questioned check their business e-mail outside of work, 78 percent while in the bathroom and 11 percent during "intimate moments." (The study did not detail what their partners were doing during those moments.) Those may be signs of addiction but not necessarily risky behavior. However, 76 percent of those surveyed admitted to driving while texting, a notoriously dangerous habit.

The need to constantly check work e-mail is a sign that many employees feel pressure to always be on the job, according to the report. And some seem to overdo it. Of those surveyed, 94 percent said they check their work e-mail at night, while 93 percent do so on the weekends. About 79 percent said they take work-related mobile devices with them on vacation, and more than 33 percent admitted that they hide from family and friends to check e-mail on vacation. Almost half said they've traveled up to 10 miles while on vacation just to check their messages.

"As e-mail has become integrated into mission-critical business processes, employees are feeling extraordinary pressure to be constantly available," Osterman Research President Michael Osterman said in a statement. "In fact, this year's study finds that employees rely so heavily on mobile e-mail availability that if service went down, even for an hour, 85 percent of respondents indicated that it would impact their business work flow."

E-mail addiction also causes people to check their messages at inappropriate times, noted the report. Of those questioned, 20 percent said they catch up on e-mail at weddings, 30 percent at graduations, and 15 percent at funerals.

More people also report receiving important information via e-mail. About 45 percent said they've received a job offer through e-mail, while 6 percent were told that they had lost their job this way. Of those surveyed, 70 percent said they found out about the birth of a family member through e-mail, while 35 percent learned of a family member's death through a message.

Finally, 10 percent of the people questioned said they've received a marriage proposal through e-mail, while 6 percent said they've gotten a request for a divorce or breakup this way. I just wonder if the people who said they check their messages during an "intimate moment" are the same ones getting divorce requests via e-mail.