A newly commissioned study conducted by Censuswide on behalf of KnowBe4, provider of a security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, examined the attitudes of the British furloughed workforce regarding anxiety or stress, as well as priorities when it comes to their email inboxes.
The nationwide survey of one thousand furloughed employees revealed that almost 60 per cent of respondents admitted feeling anxious ‘always’, ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ when thinking about their work inbox.
The study showed a range of reasons contributing to this anxiety, with the largest concern being that respondents were missing time-sensitive communications from colleagues and/or clients (50%). This was closely followed by the worry of an accumulation of emails that would need to be filtered upon return to work (49%). Indeed, respondents believe it will take an average of just over two days to sort through their emails once they return to work. Others feared falling behind on work (37%) and around 1 in 10 individuals were wary about losing their jobs entirely.
Other key findings:
- Majority of workers (nearly 7 out of 10) have checked email, despite government guidance, and 4 out of 10 have responded to them during their furlough period most likely in HR, education, IT and telecoms industries
In order to qualify for the government’s furlough scheme, employees are required to abstain from any form of work, including checking and forwarding work-related emails. Non-compliance with these guidelines could jeopardise government grant entitlements. Yet, when furloughed employees were asked, they claimed that almost 40 per cent of employers had not provided clear guidance on what is or is not acceptable.
- Furloughed workers want control over their emails - when considering how the emails should be handled, 52 per cent disliked the idea of having all their emails deleted or archived at the end of the furlough period; with 22 per cent claiming they would feel ‘much more stressed’ and 30 per cent saying they would feel ‘somewhat stressed’. Rather, more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents would prefer to handle their emails themselves.Only 1 in 10 individuals would prefer management to handle their emails for them
- Furloughed workers will prioritise speed over security upon return to work - once returned to work, the priority for almost half of the respondents (47%) is to go through emails as quickly as possible and get back to ‘business as usual’. This is greater than the 38 per cent who said they would go through emails carefully to make sure they didn’t click on any fraudulent links or attachments
Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4 said, “though it is clear that tensions and anxieties over emails and keeping jobs is at an all-time high, we have witnessed cybercriminals take advantage of the chaos surrounding the pandemic and remote working to employ new social engineering tactics. Therefore, to hear that so many employees would prioritise speed over security is highly concerning, though not surprising. These inboxes are likely to be a minefield filled with phishing threats…One wrong click and an entire organisation risks being compromised.
“Organisations should be as clear as possible in all communications to employees about what is expected of them - even in times where they have been placed on furlough. This will help to ease employees’ anxieties and ultimately create a stronger workplace.”