A significant loss in productivity. Some studies estimate that up to 50% of corporate email communications are non-business related, and are either spam or personal in nature. Frequently checking new email messages breaks concentration, changes focus, and elevates new email messages to the highest priority task regardless of what is, or should be, the actual highest priority task. The biggest problem appears to be the amount of time lost to reacting to new email messages. One study found that 70% of arriving emails were reacted to within 6 seconds. Once the email was addressed, it took an average employee 64 seconds to resume working at the same rate they were before the interruption. If an employee has set up the email application to check for email every 5 minutes then it is possible, if (s)he is a heavy user of email, that there could be 96 interruptions in a normal 8-hour working day, which is a substantial amount of time lost to business.
So what is an employer to do? There are several ways to recover this loss. Consider the following:
- Have email applications set up to check for email every 45 minutes (rather then every 5), reducing the number of possible interruptions;
- Turn off the new email alert dialogue box and email sound alerts;
- Train staff on effective and efficient use of email, such as setting email priority, email housekeeping with message rules, effective use of user groups, folders and address books;
- Make sure your technology use policy adequately and accurately communicates the company’s rules regarding email use.
A complete ban on using company email for personal reasons is typically unreasonable because it is difficult to monitor and virtually impossible to enforce; therefore efficient and effective use of email is critical.