Remote Workers and Email Mistakes - A Correlation!

Remote working may be flexible as it allows employees to continue work from the comfort of their homes. But did you know, that remote workers are also more likely to make email mistakes?

Recent research from the email security company Tessian in collaboration with a Stanford University expert on remote employees found that the work from home brigade is often distracted and may make more mistakes – when compared to onsite workers.

This mistake is often costly – with the workers sometimes losing their job as a consequence. Moreover, a recent report shows that business email scams cost globally $1.7 billion while a FireEye study shows 91% of cybercrimes start with an email mistake.

Workers make mistakes when stressed

Stanford researcher Jeff Hancock explains that 2020 has been an eventful – but full of anxieties for all. He says that especially the workforce has been stressful due to the sudden change in their work environment and as psychology goes – when a person is stressful, they make the most mistakes.

In fact, a survey by the researching team found that over two-fifths of the respondents are more error-prone when they are tired or distracted with the younger demographic being more affected.

Video calls were also one of the contributing factors to a worker’s stress. Hancock said that a conversation on Zoom is very different from the one we have in person – as we often shift our gaze away while talking in ‘real-time.’ However, a virtual conversation has one or many people following our every move, which can be intimidating. Especially if they are conducted many times a day!

Longer work hours

In the survey, 61% of the respondents said their company is making them work for longer hours than they required – leading to nearly half of employees complaining about burnout.

Researchers also pointed out that 93% were either too tired or stressed at some point during their work-from-home period and making mistakes in return to hurriedly finish the task in hand.

More distraction

With the full household at home during the COVID-19 lockdown period, workers felt more distracted. The experts also agreed with this scenario and said that many people felt overwhelmed during 2020, which in turn led to mistakes and poor decision making.

Notably, clicking on phishing emails was one of the most common blunders made by workers who were pressurized to respond quickly to emails. Such cases were significantly observed in sectors such as finance, tech, and consulting with one in four workers admitting this mistake – according to the Tessian survey.

The participants also said that distraction in their homes was one of the top reasons for falling into the phishing scam.

Men vs. Women

Interestingly, men were found to be more likely to get phished by the Tessian survey. As per their report, roughly 34% of the male respondents said they have clicked on a link with a phishing email, compared to 17% of female respondents.

Researchers also said that they did not fully understand the gender difference when it comes to phishing attacks but generally, men are more likely to take risks than women.

Older employees are more proactive

Age was also taken into consideration when researching phishing attacks and remote behaviors. As per the survey, nearly three-quarters of the respondents who admitted to clicking on a phishing email were between 18 – 40 years old.

On the contrary, only 8% of the remote workers over the age of 51 fell in the phishing trap. In this regard, Hancock said that the older generation is more experienced and has a better sense when it comes to detecting ‘wrong’ movements.

Sending an email to the wrong recipient

The mistake of sending a message or email to a wrong person is something that we are all guilty of. But in the corporate world, the consequence of the mistake is far greater than embarrassment.

When questioned the remote workers, around 58% admitted to sending emails to a wrong receiver with many going outside their organization – to external parties. Most of the employees surveyed cited fatigue as the primary cause of sending emails to the wrong recipient.

As a result, many companies faced a loss of clients and the occurrence of data breaches while around 10% of workers said they lost their job.

How to eliminate errors?

Hancock said that companies should educate their employees regarding cybersecurity, time management, and mental health wellbeing to avoid such errors. They also said that lessening the pressure on the workforce – especially during the unprecedented times can help resolve some issues.

Read next: How to Stay Focused When Working From Home.
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