Imagine showing up to work one morning, logging in to your computer and finding that your email isn’t working.
You also get a brief message from management that people are using business email and the Internet during work hours for their personal needs and that you no longer will have access at the office.
Might as well cut off your right arm now. Your life will never be the same.
And, it just seems like a ridiculous notion.
A new survey shows that this idea is not so far-fetched. It notes that some middle managers complain that they dedicate 2.5 hours every day to dealing with their email and 8 percent of executives, 15 percent of middle managers, and 11 percent of employees agree that limiting email access during work hours would be very effective.
“We’ve seen companies around the world experimenting with email black-outs or time-outs,” said David Grossman, chief executive of The Grossman Group, which commissioned the study of 1,300 employees, managers and executives of Fortune 1000 companies. “However, our research reveals that’s not the most effective approach. We know employees are overloaded by their inboxes and it’s causing them stress, yet our research shows its email misbehaviors that need to be addressed.”
Nearly everyone agrees that email can be a time-consuming and annoying distraction. Yet, disconnecting the email system, either during the day or after work hours isn’t the solution, according to 84 percent of executives, 83 percent of middle managers and 77 percent of employees.
The survey also revealed that many don’t want to limit email access outside of work hours, either.
It found that more than half of executives and workers review their emails after work hours to make sure they have properly covered and processed requests from others. In addition, more than one-half use their email in preparation of the next day’s list of things to do.
Middle managers expressed the highest need to check email after hours. Their reasons included: pressure from co-workers to respond, stress from being unable to check email during the day, pressure from supervisors to respond, fear of repercussion from not responding, and not being seen as a team player because they have failed to respond.
Often, the solutions to email deluge are simple. The survey reports that employees often misuse email and reply features such as having too many back-and-forth replies, using “reply all” copying others unnecessarily, using poorly written or unclear emails or using email when a personal meeting or phone call would be more appropriate.
“The goal of this research was to better understand how a cross-section of corporate America feels about email in their workplace and how they use it,” says Greg Gordon, senior vice president of LCWA Research Group, which conducted the survey. “While respondents said they don’t want access to email interrupted, they do want policies that address the overwhelming volumes of irrelevant emails.”
Sixty-one percent of executives and 55 percent of middle managers said that email policies would be very effective in their organization.