Henley Management College survey finds managers spend three-and-a-half years reading irrelevant e-mails

Managers spend three-and-a-half years of their lives reading irrelevant e-mails, a survey has found.

Research by Henley Management College has shown that 32% of the messages received by the180 senior managers surveyed are considered immaterial, resulting in more than 36 months of wasted attention during the working day.

It also found that European managers spend at least two hours per day dealing with e-mail communications. This equates to a staggering 10 years of a worker’s life spent e-mailing.

The study recommends that managers question the extensive use of e-mail, particularly for internal transactions as a substitute for face-to-face meetings or telephone discussions, particularly as e-mail is seen to prolong decision-making.

Peter Thomson, director of the Future Work Forum at Henley Management College, said: “Our research proves that e-mail use is out of control, often causing confusion and inertia. It also paints a bleak picture of silent offices where colleagues e-mail rather than talk face to face.

Using a phone with a wireless headset also increased work-related productivity by 23% by allowing staff to multi-task and concentrate more effectively, the study found.

“Time wasted on e-mail also has social implications as workers interact less with each other,” Thomson added. “Where speaking on the phone was actually found to build relationships, use of e-mail was seen to weaken them.”

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