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Forget Facebook and Snapchat: American Workers Still Need Their Email, Pew Report Says

A measly four percent of American workers consider social networks “very important” in the workplace.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

They can hack it, spam it, even slam it as so old-school. But American workers can’t live without their email.

About six out of 10 working Americans surveyed recently consider email “very important” to their jobs, making it the most critical digital tool in the American workplace today, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. About a quarter of the workers surveyed say mobile phones are critical to their work, while 35 percent say land-line phones are. A measly four percent consider social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter “very important” in the workplace. (Count tech journalists like myself among that tiny group.)

The report’s release comes in the wake of the giant cyber attack of Sony Pictures, which resulted in a flood of private — some disturbing — emails getting published online. The hack has led some in the tech industry to proclaim that giant attacks like this one will hasten the demise of email. The rise of social media services such as Facebook and Snapchat as communication tools among younger generations also seems to spell future trouble for email. But for now, the inbox is still sacred from 9 to 5.

The report’s analysis was based on an online survey of a representative sample of a little more than 1,000 adults — about half of whom are employed part-time or full-time and are Internet users.

Some other interesting nuggets, in no particular order:

  • American employers still have a tight digital leash on their employees. Nearly half of those surveyed (46 percent) said their employers block access to some websites.
  • Another 46 percent of respondents said their employers have rules about the things they say or post online.
  • A little more than a third (35 percent) of workers said the Internet, email and cellphones have led to longer working hours.
  • But it’s not all bad. The report found that 39 percent of workers said those same digital tools also led to more flexible working hours.
  • Lastly, 92 percent of workers surveyed said the Internet has not hurt their productivity. They obviously aren’t regular Twitter users.

This article originally appeared on

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