Published on May 5th, 2012 | by Kim LaCapria0
Email Reduces Productivity, Distracts the Hell Out of You, Study Finds
Email is a common thorn in the side of the modern office worker, and you probably didn’t need a study to tell you that your inbox may be keeping you from getting work done much of the time.
But in case you were looking for one, here it is. A very small study out of the University of California, Irvine (co-written by the US Army) looked at the performance of 13 workers over a five-day period. The employees were instructed to abandon email for five days, and researchers examined their productivity levels as well as their efficacy in performing tasks outside of their inboxes.
What the data revealed was that the workers were able to focus for longer periods, and spent more time in work windows than they did when they were enslaved by their inboxes. Email expert Gloria Marks explained to the New York Times that workplaces may be well-served in examining their email related policies in order to improve worker productivity:
“The fact that we found that people are less stressed when they don’t have e-mail shows that there are ways to change the way we use e-mail in the work setting… We suggest doing what we call batching e-mails, where organizations send e-mails once or twice a day, rather than continually, so employees know not to check their e-mail every 10 minutes.”
While lack of email did reduce worker stress significantly (and reduced window toggling from 35 times to 18 times per hour), participants did admit feeling “isolated” without the presence of electronic communication.