A study conducted by Pew Research Center after surveying 1,066 adult internet users has confirmed the gains from the use of email and internet far outweigh the losses caused by them and that they are among the most important digital tools for U.S. workers. But not more important than the 140 year old technology: The landline telephone.

The fourth place in this list of tools which the American workers considered “very important” was occupied by mobile phones and smartphones. At number five was the need to stay connected to one’s social networks like Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Only four percent people considered it crucial to be socially connected even while working.

Almost half of the respondents (46%) “credited the internet as an improvement, opening up new paths of communication and extending their workday over longer and more flexible hours.” 39% said that the internet, email and their smartphones give them more flexibility in their working hours. Only 7% of those surveyed blamed it for a decline in productivity. But nearly a third (35%) feel that improved productivity and flexibility have come for a price- longer working hours!

“The once rigid boundary between ‘work’ and ‘home’ has changed to something that is highly permeable,” said Lee Rainie, Pew’s director of Internet, science, and technology research. “People do lots of work at home and they do some home-related things at work – like shop, browse the web, watch March Madness on their mobile devices in their cubicles.”

Email topped the list of workplace tools provided by internet as the most useful among the lot. E-mail is the equivalent to “what stone-sharpening tolls were in the prehistoric age,” Rainie said. “I think the preeminent place of email in today’s work culture will likely shock the technology community.”

Many forecasters have often talked about the death of e-mail. “There is plenty of commentary that new channels like social media or hot new communications platforms will supplant email,” Rainie said. “Yet, email has survived every challenge from spam to Skype to remain the most important tool for most workers.”

46% people who were online as part of their jobs said their employers had blocked certain sites and imposed restrictions to what they say online to avoid wastage of time at the workplace and because of their concerns about employees sharing too much/ inappropriate feedback over the internet.


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