Remember years ago when social media really started coming into its own, and people thought it might one day replace email? It didnâ€™t take incredibly long to realise that would not be the case, especially when social networks like Facebook tried to launch its own email service (which didnâ€™t really work out).
Today itâ€™s just as clear as ever that email is here to stay, and thanks to the rise of smartphones, itâ€™s arguably bigger than it ever has been. Now when you get an email, itâ€™s right in your pocket immediately as itâ€™s delivered. For work, itâ€™s hard to imagine that any other form of communication or online tool is as important for getting the job done. According to a new survey, only the Internet itself even comes close, yet that still plays second fiddle to email.
â€œThe internet and cell phones have infiltrated every cranny of American workplaces, and digital technology has transformed vast numbers of American jobs,â€ saysÂ Pew Research. â€œWork done in the most sophisticated scientific enterprises, entirely new technology businesses, the extensive array of knowledge and media endeavours, the places where crops are grown, the factory floor, and even mom-and-pop stores has been reshaped by new pathways to information and new avenues of selling goods and services. For most office workers now, life on the job means life online.â€
The firm surveyed online what it says is a representative sample of adult internet users, asking the ones who have jobs questions about digital technology in their work lives. The sample, it says, covers online adults who also have full- or part-time jobs in any capacity.94% of jobholders are internet users, it says, working in â€œall kinds of enterprises from technology companies to non-technology firms; from big corporations to small proprietor operations; and from those in urban areas, farms, and places in between.â€
Whatâ€™s really interesting about Pewâ€™s findings is that email is by far the most important tool to these workers. In fact, itâ€™s nearly twice as important as a phone, based on this graph:
â€œThe high value of email comes despite the challenges of the past generation, including threats like spam and phishing and competitors like social media and texting,â€ Pew says. â€œSurprisingly, landline phones outrank cell phones for these internet-using workers. Social media is very low in importance.â€
The firm notes that in this sample email and the internet are particularly important to those working in traditionally â€œwhite collar,â€ office-based jobs like professionals, executives, managers, business owners, and clerical workers. 59% of employed online adults who take their jobs outside of the physical boundaries of the workplace say email and the internet are critical.
â€œWhat is potentially surprising is that even in the face of constantly evolving forms of digital communication, potential threats like phishing, hacking and spam, and dire warnings about lost productivity and email overuse, email continues to be the main digital artery that workers believe is important to their jobs,â€ Pew says. â€œSince taking hold a generation ago, email has not loosened its grip on the American workplace.â€
Email is also found to be a lot better for productivity than some might think. 7% of working online adults surveyed said their productivity has dropped because of the internet, email and cell phones, while 46% said they feel more productive. 35% say email, the internet, and cell phones increase the amount of hours they work. 39% say these allow them more flexibility in the hours they work.