Employees spend 28% of their time reading and responding to email
The McKinsey Global Institute found that Interaction Workers (employees required to interact with other people, practice independent judgment and access information) spend 13 hours a week reading and responding to email. That’s by far the most time consuming work activity - at 28% of our work time. This equates to 650 hours a year spent on a reactive activity.
Email is an unwelcome interruption which negatively affects productivity
- A Study by the Danwood Group found that it takes an average of 1.5 minutes to read and recover from an email.
- If an employee is alerted every 5 minutes when new mail arrives in their inbox they can expect up to 96 interruptions in a regular 8-hour workday. If it takes 1.5 minutes to read and recover from an email, that means 3.5 minutes are left until the next interruption occurs.
- If this same employee changes their email alert to go off every 45 minutes instead of every 5 minutes they decrease potential interruptions to 11 per day. If an average of 9 emails accumulate in their inbox over 45 minutes it will take around 6 minutes to read and recover from the interruption leaving 39 minutes until the next interruption.
Email overload causes stress
A study conducted by the UC, Irvine and the U.S. Army found that being away from work email dramatically reduces stress and increases an employees ability to focus. They also concluded multitasking was reduced when email wasn’t available.
- During the 1-hour study people with access to email switched windows 37 times. Participants without email switched windows only 18 times on average within an hour timeframe.
- Participants in the study explained that without the distraction and stress associated with email they were better able to complete the tasks at hand.
- Researchers from the study believe that controlled login times, message batching and other such strategies would be helpful in decreasing stress and increasing productivity
Email overload is a big and growing problem for enterprises
The email irrelevancy issue
- According to our internal data, an average inbox contains only ~40% important, relevant emails. This means 60% of the emails in the average inbox are not important and can be processed in bulk.
- A recent web-based survey found that 34% of emails are simply back-and-forth replies and 32% of emails should be communicated in person or by phone instead
Limiting internal email
- LCWA Research Group suggests that limiting or even eliminating internal email to employees, which has been suggested isn’t an effective solution to email overload.
- The 2012 Work-Related Email Perception Study, Enough Already! Stop Bad Email found that middle managers who were spending around 2.5 weeks (100 hrs) per year on unimportant emails didn’t want their email access limited or taken away. They did however want policies put in place that would reduce the volume of emails sent to their inbox.
Email, the necessary evil
61% of executives and 55% of middle managers admitted that email policies on etiquette would be beneficial in their organization.
- 84% of executives, 83% of middle managers and 77% of employees agreed email is a necessary tool in their organization, while only 8% of executives, 15% of middle managers and 11% of employees explained limiting email during business hours would be effective.
- The McKinsey Group: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies
- UC Irvine: A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons
- Silicon Republic: Ban is wrong approach to email overload
- Thomas Jackson, Ray Dawson and Darren Wilson: Evaluating the Effect of Email Interruptions within the Workplace
- The Grossman Group: Enough Already! Stop Bad Email
- Danwood Case Study: Evaluating the Effect of Email Interruptions within the Workplace
- Oklahoma City University Research: An Explanatory Analysis of Email Processing Strategies
- Mchigan State University Study: Timecourse of recovery from task interruption: data and a model
- Huge library of research on email overload, distractions and interruptions: http://iorgforum.org/research