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No hiding place from work email for employees

Date: 1 Jul 2015

Work email is encroaching into the personal lives and downtime of employees more than ever, according to new research

The third annual indepedndent study into email user habits by GFI Software concludes that monitoring of work email outside of work hours is no "inescapable", with 73% of those surveyed regularly checking their work email at weekends and 58% saying that they check their work inbox while on holiday.

The number of people that check work email at least once a day in their personal time is now 47% - up 6% on last year's figures.

The survey also focused on the main obstacles to effective workplace email use. The biggest hindrance to everyday email use, according to 45% of respondents, is spam. In second place, 28% highlighted the practice of unnecessarily CCing vast numbers of people, creating high-volume "reply all" loops of email traffic.

Other key findings include:

  • 24% feel compelled to reply to work emails within 15 minutes of receipt;
  • 72% reply to work emails in under one hour;
  • However, only 10% expect a reply inside 15 minutes and 50% expect a reply in an hour or less;
  • 29% of work email users do nothing to organise their email, leaving all incoming mail in their Inbox;
  • 18% have had an argument at home because of checking work email during family time.

Sergio Galindo, general manager of GFI Software, said: "Setting and maintaining realistic boundaries between work and personal life is important to health, happiness and productivity. Companies can and should do more to address this and help staff achieve a sustainable work-life balance."

Companies, he said, "need to set clear policies on acceptable use of work email, as well as regarding when to switch off - employees need to know it is OK to let work email that arrived after hours wait until the morning."

Survey respondents were also asked about their preferred business communication method. Email topped the list, followed by face-to-face meeting and phone calls.

Galindo said: "Despite the seeming challenges and inconveniences of work email, people continue to view it positively, with 86% rating email a blessing.

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“Public Health England South West is delighted to showcase the workplace wellbeing case studies from Cornwall and Isle of Scilly as exemplars of good practice in support of the: ‘Mental health toolkit for employers’, ‘Musculoskeletal health in the workplace’, ‘Reducing the risk of suicide: a preventative toolkit for employers’ and ‘Crisis management in the event of a suicide: a postvention guide for employers’.  Cornwall and Isle of Scilly has a long track record of leading the way in supporting local employers develop approaches that create healthy workplaces which meet the quality mark standards required to receive the prestigious ‘health and wellbeing in the workplace’ award.”

Professor Kevin Elliston, Deputy Director Health & Wellbeing South West

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