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WASHINGTON – Most American workers say e-mail helps them do their jobs better and don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of they get at work. And spam’s not a problem. That’s in the latest findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a non-partisan independent research organization funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The project’s recent survey of 2,447 Americans found that 1,003 use e-mail at their jobs. The average worker spends about a half-hour handling e-mail each day. The majority receives 10 or fewer e-mails and sends five or fewer. And if online communications seem to be taking over your credit union, you’re not alone. E-mail is now considered an integral part of 57 million Americans’ work lives, more than 60% of the employed workforce and twice the number found in a similar study two years ago. “We began this survey expecting to find the beginning of a backlash against e-mail – not just against spam, but against the rising volume of all kinds of e-mail,” said Deborah Fallows, the Pew report’s author. “Instead, we found that most American workers are pleased with the role e-mail plays in their jobs and we found almost zero evidence of disillusionment with e-mail,” she said. That could be in part because of the lack of spam. Because of the use of filters and other blocking techniques, and because organizations like credit unions and other businesses don’t have the big numbers that attract spammers to services like AOL and Yahoo, people at work don’t get nearly as many unsolicited ads as do on home accounts. Managers, meanwhile, will be happy to know that the bulk of that electronic traffic is work, not play. “Employers who worry that employees are spending too much time on personal e-mail should be relieved to learn work e-mailers are dead serious about the content of their e-mail,” Fallows said. She said the majority of the respondents said almost all their incoming e-mail is work-related and that an even higher percentage of their outgoing e-mail is, too. The survey also found that: * 72% of people who use e-mail at work say it helps them communicate with more people. * 71% say e-mail saves them time. * 62% say it makes them more available to co-workers (and about a third say they’re now too accessible.) * 59% say e-mail improves workplace teamwork. Not all’s rosy, however. “There is a darker side to e-mail’s role in the workplace, but it is much less pronounced,” the report said. “About a quarter of work e-mailers find e-mail distracting, a fifth of work e-mailers say e-mail has caused misunderstandings on the job, and a similar number say e-mail has added a new source of stress at work.” The report also identified a group of respondents it called “power e-mailers.” They make up about a fifth of the all work e-mailers and receive over 50 messages a day, send more than 20 and spend two more hours a day doing so. Is that bad? Not necessarily. “They do a lot more with e-mail, but they do it smartly and efficiently,” Fallows said. “In the end, e-mail has a high payoff for them.” -

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