Survey: E-mail Hampers Productivity

Swartz, Nikki

Businesses that want more productive employees should improve their e-mail systems.

According to a recent survey of 2,400 employed U.S. adults conducted by Harris Interactive, 59 percent of those who use e-mail at work admitted to wasting a lot of time searching for lost e-mail, while 31 percent said they have had to re-write or re-construct these “lost” e-mails. More than one-fourth – 28 percent – said the volume of e-mail they receive causes them to fall behind in their work.

As reliance on e-mail as a business tool has grown, so has the need for new and better ways to search through, store, and manage it. But, according to Harris, many businesses are still relying on basic e-mail tools to cope with the influx of e-mail data.

“Without the proper search and storage tools, e-mail can actually reduce productivity levels. Companies are wasting huge amounts of their employees’ time just sorting through, filing, and saving e-mail for future use,” said Paul Chen, chief executive officer of Fortiva.

It’s not just business e-mail that can have an impact on productivity levels, the survey found. With 61 percent of e-mail users at work also using work e-mail for personal reasons, chances are that businesses are also losing employee time to personal correspondence. This personal e-mail use also can have an impact on corporate e-mail storage resources.

According to IDC estimates, the volume of business e-mail sent annually worldwide will exceed 3.5 exabytes in 2006 – more than doubling the amount sent over the past two years (1 exabyte = 1 thousand petabytes = 1 million terabytes = 1 billion gigabytes).

Many organizations are turning to e-mail archiving to solve these problems. It enables employees to easily access their own e-mail archives, including deleted e-mail, from their corporate mailbox. This feature can help reduce the burden on e-mail servers, while eliminating the need for employees to store copies of email outside the corporate network. The solution also takes advantage of a distributed network architecture, similar to those used by major search engines, allowing end users to quickly and easily search through messages and attachments.

The Harris survey also revealed:

* E-mail-using employees earning a higher income are more likely to admit to wasting time searching for e-mail than their lower-paid counterparts. Among those who earn $75,000 or more annually, 65 percent admit to wasting time looking for e-mail they know they’ve received compared to 47 percent of those earning less than $35,000 per year.

* Twenty-seven percent have also reached or exceeded the amount of storage space allowed for e-mail at work.

* Those with higher incomes rely more heavily on work e-mail for personal use (66 percent of those with incomes of $50,000 and above, compared to 55 percent of those with incomes of $35,000 to $50,000 and 49 percent of those with incomes under $35,000) and waste more time searching for e-mails.

* U.S. adults who send/receive e-mail at work and earn $75,000 or more are more likely to save work-related e-mail outside of the company’s network (62 percent, compared to 51 percent of those earning $50,000 to $75,000 and 41 percent of those with incomes less than $50,000).

Copyright Association of Records Managers and Administrators Mar/Apr 2006

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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