Email is killing productivity, new research finds

Person checking email inbox while sitting at a desk
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Poor email processes are killing productivity, with a quarter of UK-based employees spending nearly one working day each week managing their inboxes.

That's according to research by Mail Manager, which surveyed 500 business leaders and decision-makers in the UK. It found that one in four respondents spent at least one hour a day going through their inbox, which amounts to almost one full working day spent on managing emails.

This is despite email being the most-often used form of communication. 90% of respondents indicated that they use email to communicate with their clients, while Skype and WhatsApp, by comparison, were used by 55% of those surveyed. Just 15% of those surveyed said that Slack was their go-to communication platform.

Jacob Wardrop, commercial director at Mail Manager, described email as the “letter of today”.

“While tools like Slack and WhatsApp are great for informal correspondence and chat, email remains the core correspondence method for formal communication. Before the digital era, companies would send formal correspondence as letters, which would be physically stored. Now, email is the tool for formal correspondence, but the need for filing and securely storing this communication remains, even though it’s digital,” he said.


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The additional time spent on sorting emails has a negative impact on employees emotions and work. More than half (55%) of respondents said that they were frustrated by not being able to find specific documents in their inbox, which left them feeling as if they were wasting time (63%), being less productive (48%), and losing track of project information (52%).

In some cases, poor email management led to missed customer and client opportunities, an experience shared by 45% of those surveyed.

The findings come after last year Slack added a feature to send messages beyond the walls of a company and connect organisations into shared channels.

Aside from productivity gains, Slack’s CISO Larkin Ryder also pointed out safety benefits of switching to the messaging tool.

"Email is an open front door to security threats to an organisation - $12 billion in losses are caused by business email scams, and 90% of data breaches are from phishing. If you want a more secure collaboration solution for your organisation, the first thing you can do is take your employees out of email and into Slack,” he said.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.