Results from an independent survey reveal that 1 in 5 British workers use up a total of 32 working days a year managing their email. The survey also reveals that 57% of workers experience issues or are unable to retrieve an email that is three months old.
More than 1,000 UK workers responded to the survey, which was commissioned to gauge attitudes towards email management in the workplace, and follows estimates that the typical corporate user sends and receives some 110 email messages a day.
The Survey discovered that 19% of employees spend up to an hour each day managing emails, with a further 20% spending more than an hour each day, which is the equivalent of 32.5 working days per year.
When asked about the systems they use to manage their inboxes, many workers admitted that they had no rules or filing systems in place to organise messages. The survey found that 42% of workers prefer to keep all emails in their main inboxes, without creating rules or folders. 11% of respondents admitted that they have created dedicated folders but do not often use them, whilst only a small proportion, 6%, had created automated rules to store their emails.
This may explain why almost one in three of UK workers feel they are losing the battle with email. 17% now feel that their working days revolve around reacting to emails, while 14% felt that they were drowning in emails and unable to deal with them effectively. Interestingly, the over 55’s feel less swamped by email than their younger counterparts; more than half of this age group (54%) feel that they are completely in control of their email, compared to just 41% of those aged 16 – 34.
Although email has been the mainstay of corporate communications for more than a decade, it’s clear that workers are increasingly overwhelmed with the volumes and want support with how to stay in control of their inboxes. The issue of email management, and particularly email retrieval, is about more than just efficiency and productivity, or even managing stress levels. There are legal requirements stipulating not only the retention and protection of email but also requirements which oblige businesses to make email records available within a given timescale.
It’s vital that companies do more to help employees manage this unstructured data, not only to help them feel less swamped by their inboxes, but also to ensure that, should they need to, they could comply with legal obligations to produce email correspondence.