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Work and personal e-mail use by university employees: PIM practices across domain boundaries



In this article, we present findings from a survey of nearly 600 university employees' e-mail use. The study provides a detailed comparison of use patterns between work and personal e-mail accounts. Our results suggest that users engage in more “keeping” behaviors with work e-mail than with personal e-mail—respondents reported more frequent use of keeping actions and larger inbox sizes for their work accounts. However, we found correlations between individual respondents' e-mail behaviors in the two contexts, indicating that personal preferences can play a role. We also report results pointing to e-mail as an important boundary management artifact. We show evidence that the use of multiple e-mail accounts may be a work-personal boundary placement strategy, but also observe that a fair amount of boundary permeation occurs through e-mail. To our knowledge, this study is one of the first to compare e-mail use in both work and personal contexts across the same sample. Our findings extend prior research on personal information management regarding e-mail use, and help inform the role of e-mail in managing work-personal boundaries. The results have implications for the design of e-mail systems, organizational e-mail policies, user training, and understanding the impacts of technology on daily life.

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