Have you ever got away with making a critical error at work? You’re not alone!

  • 0

A study of 2,000 workers found one in five have made what they consider to be a critical mistake at work, and 12 per cent have taken a risk that cost their company money.

It also found one in six (15 per cent) have replied all to a private email instead of just to one person and 12 per cent have left sensitive documents on their desk for others to see.

While more than one in 10 (13 per cent) have forgotten to mute themselves and said something inappropriate on a work call.

Other errors include failing to hang up a phone properly before saying something about the person on the other end (eight per cent).

These mistakes have left 45 per cent feeling stressed and 41 per cent panicked.

But while 11 per cent faced repercussions from their error, almost half (48 per cent) escaped being disciplined and 41 per cent admitted that no-one ever found out about their mistake.

A further 30 per cent consider themselves to be ‘adrenaline junkies’ with 12 per cent taking more risks than ever before since the pandemic.

A spokesperson from data storage and information management firm, Iron Mountain, which commissioned the study, said: “We are all human and make mistakes, but it can be stressful when you make one at work, and that stress can snowball into further errors.

“How organisations succeed in managing internal risk-taking is crucial, especially given the growing threats posed by remote working and cyber criminality.”

The study also found a third of working adults (33 per cent) are willing to take a risk at work as long as they don’t get caught.

Although 42 per cent have made a mistake or taken a risk in their workplace which left them embarrassed, many are still willing to take major risks.

Almost a third (29 per cent) admit to using the same passwords across multiple platforms, 26 per cent leave their computer unlocked and 16 per cent keep their password on a note on their desk.

Similarly, three quarters (73 per cent) of employees do not see the value in using a privacy screen for their laptop on public transport.

More than six in 10 (61 per cent) do not see forgetting to shred important documents as a risk, and 67 per cent would be happy to allow family and friends to use their work computer.

In spite of these vulnerabilities, 61 per cent still consider themselves risk averse at work.

The same number consider themselves risk averse when it comes to their personal finances, while 56 per cent avoid any risks in a relationship.

While just over half (57 per cent) want to play it safe with their health, according to the study carried out via OnePoll.

Nearly a fifth of adults continue to save their personal card details as a pre-filled form with 16 per cent logging onto public wi-fi to complete their work.


1.            Updated your existing password by just a number or letter

2.            Used the same password across multiple platforms

3.            Shopped online using the work computer

4.            Forgotten to lock your laptop when you leave your desk

5.            Accidentally deleted an important email

6.            Forwarded a work document to a personal email address for printing or working from home

7.            Booked a holiday on the work computer

8.            Kept your password on a note in or on your desk

9.            Accidentally ‘replied all’ on an email instead of replying to an individual

10.          Applied for another job on the work computer

11.          Forgotten to mute yourself or turn off the camera on a video call, when appropriate

12.          Streamed TV on the work computer

13.          Sent a private DM to the wrong person

14.          Had a nap at your desk

15.          Left sensitive documents (contracts, financial details etc.) on your desk

16.          Shared the wrong screen or forgotten to stop sharing on a video call

17.          Failed to hang up on the phone with a customer or client and said something they shouldn’t have heard

18.          Copied in the person you’re talking about in an email

19.          Spilt a drink all over the laptop

20.          Accidentally revealed your password to a colleague

  • The Meetings Show
    Business Travel Show
  • mm

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien