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How Emails Affect Workplace Productivity

August 5, 2015

workplace productivityWhen you think “emails” in correlation with workplace productivity, the first thing that might pop into your head is that emails help make people more productive at work. While this may be true to some extent, it is not always the case all the time. You may not believe it, but emails and the constant checking of this portal of communication, can actually lower workplace productivity.

Numerous companies have studied just how this communication tool can help, and at the same time disrupt, a person getting through their work day. It has been found that while emails do get messages out to employees quickly, it is also a time sapper and concentration breaker. It has since been found to be one of the main culprits when it comes to lower workplace productivity.

How does this happen? Consider this scenario. You are working on a report and you get a notification that a new email has arrived. You check it and you find that it is not something work related (although it came from someone at work). You get back to creating your report and you find that you have to pick up where you left off, and to do this, you have to read back to what you have already written. A little later, another email comes in and you stop what you are doing to check again. It’s a work related piece of mail, but not anything urgent. You then go back to working on your report, gather your thoughts again, and reread what was already written in order to continue what you were doing.

It may not seem obvious, but the constant back and forth that a person does from work to email to work, actually eats up a lot of precious time. The time that could have been spent finishing what you were doing in the first place is being spent on regrouping and re-understanding the task at hand. If you finished your work before any of these emails came in, you would not have needed to eat up all that time to just re-understand what you already understood in the first place.

Some companies have come up with a solution to such a dilemma, and that is to schedule when a person can and should check their emails. This scheduling system has also taught people when it was ideal for them to send emails to their colleagues. Of course, when an emergency correspondence is required, an email is sent then a call is made to the person/s targeted by the said email so that they can check it ASAP.

Not all businesses however may find this setup ideal. Some companies find that checking emails when they come in help their people address issues that need to be addressed immediately. These businesses also find that the break email checking affords those who read these when they come in help refresh an employee’s brain and actually makes them more productive throughout the day.

So, do emails impact workplace productivity negatively or positively? Apparently, it depends on the workplace and what people there are tasked to do. For some, it may be detrimental to productivity and for others, it may be beneficial. It will take the company some careful scrutiny to determine whether the checking of emails on a schedule is ideal for them or not, and some rather strict implementation if ever they do find that this kind of a system is required for productivity to go up.

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