Email and the Internet: The Corporate Double-Edged Sword

Email is to process what the internet is to information and business Too Much!

On any given day when I start work, I can look forward to my morning ritual of sifting through unwanted email I get due to my e-address being harvested from articles I write, that find their way out onto the net. I still receive offers from caring individuals genuinely concerned about helping me with a serious problem I didn’t even know I had. I think you know what I mean. 😊

To be fair, I should point out that surprisingly, my wife also receives similar emails from people just as concerned about her ‘appendage’ [one she and I have yet to locate] but one, nonetheless, our internet friends are quite convinced they can help her improve-upon if and when we ever find it.

People from Nigeria too, it seems, really need my help. It’s true! They sound so regal and all; being that approximately 110% of them say they are members of real Nigerian royalty. They say they want to give me money. How nice. In their unmitigated benevolence – rivaled, I’m sure, only by that of Mother Teresa’s – they want to put one or [insert Mike Meyers Dr Evil accent here] four-hundred-million-dollars – give or take, – into my personal bank account… for a price of course. And there are women too that I don’t know and have never met who feel the need to E-communicate with me using opening lines like “Hello my dearest darling” — where were they when I was dating?

It’s not that I don’t have adequate spam protection software to filter out the legitimate emails I wanted to receive from the others obsessed with my ability to – ah – “maintain” – I do. The problem however, is simply that anti-spam software needs ongoing education and re-education, but even with that, often legitimate email inadvertently falls into the “Spam” or “Spam Suspects” folder requiring people like me, with absolutely no problem at all – [honestly!] – to take the valuable time to go through all the spam. What a pain.

Everyone knows how frustrating and how much time is wasted in our lives everyday dealing with unwanted emails, never mind the vigilance required to ensure we do not make the dreaded mistake of opening that one email, perhaps the one that appears so benign and legit – “Hello my dearest darling” comes to mind – but is neither. The virus or worm I’m talking about is malevolent and infectious. And that is when the real waste of time begins, sometimes lasting for days, as you scramble to rehabilitate your computer, if, in fact, that option still even exists. Sometimes it doesn’t, and data is lost forever!

Like it or not, email and the internet have changed us and at times, they are no friend to business. Email has become the “medium of choice” for avoiding simple human interactivity. Inside the office, now vast amounts of information are sent and received by way of e-blasts that require no human-to-human contact but nevertheless, demands no small price in wasted productivity, time and profitability by workers, required to view and/or even respond to them. For example, is there someone in your office [more often in management] who, despite their sincere altruistic intentions, nonetheless, waste so much valuable corporate time because they feel compelled to share motivational stories, sayings and pictures they come across, with the rest of the company? Nearly every office has one. Get back to work!

It is true, if you are not at your desk, the boss assumes you are not working. On the other hand, plunking away at your keyboard is not quite so obvious, is it? Think about how much corporate time is wasted by employees who believe they are masters at multi-tasking. You know who they are. They surf the net, send copious personal emails both in and outside the company — on company time. Sadly, there is nothing funny about that.

If you are still sitting on the fence about the seriousness of this issue, here are some interesting, stats to consider:

Internet Usage Statistics — Workplace Source:

More than 60% of companies have disciplined – and more than 30% have terminated – employees for inappropriate use of the Internet. (Source: The Center for Internet Studies)

27% of Fortune 500 companies have battled sexual harassment claims stemming from employee misuse and abuse of corporate e-mail and Internet systems. (Source: American Management Association)

70% of employees admit to viewing or sending adult-oriented personal e-mail at work. (Source: NFO Worldwide)

One research firm, International Data, estimates the 30 to 40% of employee Internet use is not work related. (Source: International Data Corp.)

Dow Chemical Co. fired 50 employees and disciplined 200 others after an e-mail investigation turned up hard-core pornography and violent subject matter. (Source: Associated Press)

25% of employees said they spent 10 to 30 minutes a day surfing non-related work sites, 22%, said they spent 30 minutes to an hour, 12% said they spent one to two hours online, while 13% admitted to spending more than two hours a day. (Source:

Of more than 3,400 executives surveyed, 64.1 percent said that their companies have a formal office policy in place to help manage employee use of the Internet. (Source: Management Recruiters International)

37% of employees report that they search for jobs, 45% make travel arrangements, and 11% play online games while at work. (Source:

46% of online holiday shopping is happening at work. (Source: Nielsen//NetRatings)

Bottom Line:

Long after the humor subsides from emails that imbue circumspection for one’s athletic boudoir-performance or lack thereof – and – long before that Nigerian cheque ever arrives in the mail, the gravity of the potential dangers email and the internet bring to bear on business, must be taken seriously.

The fact is, the internet is a double-edged sword. One side cuts though the competitive forces helping companies realize success, profitability and peak performance. The other, has the potential to cut a company right off at its knees.

On a lighter note, as sure as you can be that Bill Gates is not going to send you five bucks, you can take what I’m saying, to the bank…just not the bank recommended by our E-Nigerian friends!


Paul Shearstone MACP, NLP/CCP, is a recognized expert on Sales and Persuasion. He is an International Speaker, twice Certified Coaching Practitioner, Psychotherapeutic Counsellor, NLP Therapist and Author of several books including, “Up Your Income! Solution Selling for Profitability” and Amazon #1 Best Seller: 3X Sales Success! How to move your sales team to the Top 1%.

To comment on this article or book Paul for your next successful event: 289-234-3544 / 833-285-3544