As so-called “Information Workers”, email takes up a lot of our time. A new study takes a stab at exactly why our inboxes have increasingly magnetic qualities, reveals why social media in the workplace hasn’t caught on yet and gives surprising insight into our email habits.
We get a lot of email. Mimecast, a supplier of cloud-based email services, revealed that we receive an average of 39 emails per day — most of it (29 or so), useless. Its Shape of Email Report also indicates that we are repurposing our inboxes as file servers, which can be awkward, as the report estimates that an average message search can take as long as two minutes — companies that have migrated to Google Apps will beg to differ, but they are believed to be in the minority.
The report estimates that it all adds up to an average inbox submergence of four hours per day; equivalent to more than 37 full 24-hour days over a working year, 111 working days, or 888 working hours — we’re changing from Information Workers into what the report calls “Inbox Workers”.
The research – the second in Mimecast’s Shape of Email series — surveyed 2 500 information workers in the US, UK and South Africa to explore the average employee’s attitudes to, and frustrations with, email. Those surveyed indicate a desire for better social media integration and expect email and social media to converge in the next five years. Email is seen as not just as a communications tool anymore, but as a file store, search engine and a collaboration platform.
So, what is an Inbox Worker and how can you tell if you are one?
You use your inbox as a default file server and search tool — No longer just a tool for sending and receiving messages, an Inbox Worker’s email account is their default way of storing, filing and searching for documents or information:
Your use of work email has been unaffected by social media — Inbox Workers use social media, but it is primarily for personal use. The rise of social media has had little impact on their reliance upon work email:
Your love of email can lead to bad habits — With Inbox Workers relying on email for so much of their working day, their dependence can give rise to bad corporate behaviour:
You like to be kept in the loop — Inbox Workers like to be copied on emails, even if they are non-essential messages:
Christelle Hicklin, customer experience manager at Mimecast South Africa, says that despite the large number of specialist collaboration and social tools that have come to market in recent years — think Yammer — email remains the first choice for the majority of business users.
“While email is not perfect, it seems that information workers are reluctant to adopt other, more social, tools if it means they have to leave their inbox behind. Therefore, rather than trying to entice users away from email and on to other platforms, IT teams should look for ways to make their email more efficient by introducing new, inbox-friendly collaboration tools and making the data stored within the archive more accessible,” she says.
The findings have been summarised in the infographic below and the full report is available here.
Feature image: Flickr
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