More than 80 percent of respondents to a recent study wanted offensive spam filtered out of their inboxes.
The study, commissioned by vendor SurfControl, found that staff wanted material such as porn, racist or sexist emails filtered before it reached their desktops.
Almost half of the 500 respondents also wanted leisure material -- such as travel, sport and music information -- banned.
The University of Western Sydney Social Justice Social Change Research Centre carried out the study on Internet and email in the workplace.
Charles Heunemann, managing director of SurfControl in Australia, told iTnews that when the company commissioned similar research a couple of years ago chain mail topped the list of most annoying emails. “As people have received more and more junk [emails] they have become less tolerant,” Heunemann said. “Most IT [departments] have their hands full dealing with spam and viruses…in terms of hoaxes and junk emails it's another thing on the IT manager's list of things they'll eventually have to do.”
Stuart Kollmorgen, a partner in workplace relations at law firm Deacons, said that companies needed to think about introducing both a filter and a policy to stop traffic from email and the web that might be offensive to staff.
But Kollmorgen also cautioned that organisations needed to be careful in doing this, for example by getting the consent of employees. He said that some Australian states were talking about introducing legislation restricting what employers could monitor.
He said that most companies had now introduced privacy policies, and a lot also had IT systems policies in place.
“The main reason why you'd introduce a web filtering system [is] because of concern about employees working in a safe and risk-free environment…it applies to all companies from the biggest to smallest.”
He said related concerns are health records, for example if a filtering system picks up an email that discloses an employee's health situation.
“[Organisations] have to be careful with what they do with information if [they are] going to collect it,” he warned. Kollmorgen suggested appointing a privacy officer and training a company's in-house IT professionals in what to do when they came across something which contained an individual's personal information, in particular health records information.