Love them or loathe them, emails are here to stay: Survey

Top communications tool at work, will grow in importance
By Patricia Reaney
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 08/27/2015

NEW YORK (Reuters) — If seeing an inbox full of hundreds of emails fills you with dread, get used to it, because they are here to stay and will remain a constant in the workplace, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

Despite the popularity of instant messaging, texting and social media, the poll showed that email is the top communications tool at work and will grow in importance over the next five years.

In the online survey, comprising 400 U.S. white-collar, adult workers, nearly half of the respondents said they think their use of emails for work will increase in coming years. Nineteen percent said it will go up substantially.

More than 90 per cent of the workers admitted they checked personal emails at work and 87 per cent looked at business emails outside of working hours.

"Email is and will remain a cornerstone of the workplace culture," said Kristin Naragon, of computer software company Adobe Systems Inc, which commissioned the poll.

"Certainly, lots of companies are trying to break into that space with productivity tools, but email is not going anywhere," she added in an interview.

The workers questioned in the poll estimated they spend 6.3 hours a day checking emails, with 3.2 hours devoted to work emails and 3.1 hours to personal messages.

Naragon said Americans are so concerned about keeping in touch they monitor emails around the clock, in socially unacceptable settings and during potentially dangerous times.

Nearly 80 per cent said they look at emails before going into the office and 30 per cent said they checked their inbox while still in bed in the morning. Half of the respondents also monitored emails during their vacations.

The numbers were even higher for 18-34 year olds, with 45 per cent opening emails upon waking up. More than a quarter of millennials also admitted checking emails while driving.

"Millennials are so addicted to emails that half can't even use the bathroom without checking their email," said Naragon.

But she added that people are aware of their addiction and have tried to regain a better life balance. Forty per cent said they had tried a self-imposed email detox, of which 87 per cent lasted an average of five days.

When asked about the most annoying thing about emails, 28 per cent said it was scrolling down too far to read the entire message. Nearly 40 per cent of workers also said they would prefer to get fewer emails.

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