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GFI Software has published the results of its third annual study of the email habits of end users in the United States which has shown the positive and negative impacts of the widespread use of email in businesses and its impact on employees.
The survey was conducted for GFI Software by Opinion Matters on 500 US workers from companies employing more than 500 individuals.
One of the key findings of the survey is the ‘always-on’ culture is having a negative impact on employees, whose personal lives are being disrupted by work emails. Employees access emails on mobile devices and often view and respond to messages before and after work, at weekends, and during vacations. The problem is also getting worse. 6% more employees are now accessing and responding to work emails outside of working hours than last year.
74% of surveyed U.S. workers said they regularly check their work emails at weekends and 58% of employees said they are now checking work emails at least once a day outside of normal working hours. 54% said they have checked work emails while on vacation and 39% of survey respondents said they regularly check work emails after 11pm. 13% of respondents said they have had arguments at home as a result of checking work emails outside of office hours.
25% of employees said they feel compelled to reply to work emails within 15 minutes of receiving a message while 67% respond within an hour. However, the fast response times are often unexpected. Only 11% of respondents expected a reply within 15 minutes and 53% expected a reply within the hour.
The biggest causes of productivity losses related to email were email spam, which was rated as a major problem by 37% of respondents. The second biggest email-related problem was the unnecessary CCing of vast numbers of individuals (27%), with the ‘reply-to-all’ option reducing productivity. Respondents said they have to wade through masses of unhelpful responses and the CCing made email communications difficult to navigate.
While many employees feel email is taking over their lives, few employers are using tools to help their employees take charge of their emails and organize their communications. Only 36% of surveyed employees said they had an email archiving solution to help them organize their emails and instead left the messages in their inboxes.
Even though email can cause problems, it is still rated as the preferred method of communication by 39% of employees and 84% of employees said email was a blessing not a curse.