Email bites into productivity

Email bites into productivity

Up to 35 per cent of email usage is of a personal nature, and growing.

By Hannah Birtles

There is no doubt that in today's business environment, the average office worker is being inundated with email messages. Surveys are finding that these messages are not only distracting but are having a dramatic effect on productivity, with a substantial amount of email time being used for personal correspondence and dealing with junk mail.

Last year Morgan & Banks released a survey which found that over 35 per cent of all emails being sent from offices are of a personal nature.

Furthermore, this trend is growing and some companies are predicting that as much as one day per worker per week is taken up reading, responding and sending emails.

"When you combine personal email time with the time taken for personal calls, this can cut into employees' time substantially."

This compares with 35.3 per cent of incoming and outgoing emails being used for business correspondence, and 29.5 per cent as a resource tool.

Surprisingly, results revealed that there is no real difference in the use of personal emails between general managers, accounting and finance professionals, sales and marketing employees, administration, secretarial, information technology specialists, trades or manufacturers.

Over 1000 people were interviewed for the survey and results also found that age made no real difference with personal email usage. Except for the fact that the over 55s were found to use personal emails less sparingly.

Paul O'Brien, Morgan and Banks Victorian manager for IT contracting, said the results of the survey were very surprising.

"When you combine personal email time with the time taken for personal calls, this can cut into employees' time substantially."

According to IRIS (Internet Research Information Services), in the UK 38 per cent of workers are distracted every 10 minutes by communication tools, including emails, telephones, and faxes.

Another report commissioned by US-based communications company Pitney Bowes, also found that during a workday, most employees are interrupted at least six times an hour with incoming messages.

According to Mr O'Brien, organisations need to educate their workers about the effective use of email without placing too many restrictions that will inhibit the useful flow of information.

He said whilst monitoring tools may be appropriate, employers should spend time getting employees to appreciate email as a tool for the effective flow of information.

These findings highlight the problems that many organisations are encountering with the burgeoning use of email that of lost productivity. Given these results, there is no wonder that many large enterprises are believed to be monitoring staff email and Internet usage.

If there is a need, then products normally follow. It is understood that Australian software developer GMB Research and Development will also soon be releasing an email management product.

Other vendors are also addressing this need from a security, rather than productivity and management view.

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