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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Are you overloaded with e-mails?
E-mails are meant to make our working lives easier - quick and simple communication without having to leave your desk. But is your inbox getting out of hand?
According to a survey, the average UK worker now sends or receives around 190 messages every day - only five fewer than American workers.
The pressure to handle this increased number of e-mails could be giving workers a new source of stress in their working lives.
Several high profile companies have even sent executives on courses to teach them how to communicate more effectively through e-mail.
Are you suffering from e-mail overload, or has it revolutionised the way you work?
This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your views and experiences below.
Email is an excellent way to keep in touch with people and a useful tool to communicate in the office. People shouldn't feel that they have to reply straight away though.
A couple of decades ago when I started work, we were inundated with external post and internal memos every morning. Things are no worse - now the same sort of stuff comes by e-mail. In fact it is easier to sort through and easier to delete, neater, tidier, saves on paper and hence the environment!
Owen, UK (but in Malaysia)
Without e-mail I'd certainly be lost. I easily send/receive more than 190 messages in day - in fact I prefer to receive e-mail over phone calls or verbal instructions - and the number of times I've been able to go back and say "this was said", when there would have been room for denial with a verbal instruction. Too many people are prepared to just put their primary e-mail address on any list, group, or site... then they wonder why they get so much junk????
Tristan Abbott-Coates, UK/USA
A bit of common sense soon sorts out the emails - but the figure of 190 a day sounds daft - who did they survey! - that sounds like a weekly figure.
The answer is to use the technology and not let it rule and ruin your life.
I have to say I find it really hard to believe that the average British worker sends and receives 190 emails a day. Even supporting systems for a dozen clients in five countries, I rarely get as many as fifty emails in a day, and several of those are "spam". Methinks a decimal point has been misplaced somewhere along the line.
I agree that e-mail overload is becoming a problem. A message, which can be so very quickly produced, can lead to an inordinate amount of time spent in replying. The first day on returning from a period of leave can be spent just sorting through e-mails.
If I miss something which is vital, people *always* call or speak to me personally about it anyway. Leaving important messages to the vagaries of mail-servers is not wise. Want a job done right.....?
Simon L, UK
I think e-mail is terrific. With paper
memos I always felt obliged to read them, e-mails enable me to quickly scan the subject heading and trash 90% of them.
Even with subscription mailing lists and so on, my colleagues and I still don't send or receive more than a couple of dozen e-mails per day, and we're in a busy computer department where e-mail communication is the norm. 190 messages must be an average skewed by gross abuse somewhere, not a real indicator of the prevalence of e-mail in office culture.
If we suffer from anything it is overload of these stupid surveys and reports from so-called learned bodies and research establishments with nothing better to do with their time!
One big issue seems to be misuse of distribution lists. I work for the UK arm of an American multi-national. It's amazing how many of the Americans send "important" messages to large groups of staff about stuff which is only relevant in the USA. They are very good at forgetting there's anywhere else in the world!
I find e-mail relieves stress. It's less intrusive than a phone call or co-workers appearing suddenly at your desk.
All to often email users give out their email address all too freely. Would they give out their home address so readily?
If productivity is slipping as workers drown in a deluge of e-mail, company directors have no one to blame but themselves.
If you suffer from e-mail overload you need to educate the authors of excessive e-mails to make decisions for themselves and leave you alone.
I certainly find that I can receive e-mails that average about 50+ a day. I work in the IT industry as a Support Analyst troubleshooting IT problems for both the UK and Europe. The temptation is sometimes to continue working on a existing problem whilst on a lunch break or at times no breaks at all, especially if it's an on-going problem that you feel requires your attention. The "cc" culture is very annoying
190 e-mails a day? I get about 30-40 and I thought that was a lot.
I use e-mail to keep in touch with friends from around the country, and it makes life so much easier. You can send a two-line message via e-mail, but if you ring or write, you feel obliged to put more effort in, so you don't bother. I wouldn't be in touch with so many people without it.
Yes, I suffer from an e-mail overload. Recently, I got a message from a friend about an overload of messages. And that message itself would not download.
This is just another excuse for whingers to claim that life is "too difficult". When you get an email, either file it, delete it, delegate it or act on it. It's better than being asked things verbally, as there is an automatic record of everything.
22 Jun 00 | UK
Office workers drowning in e-mail
22 Jun 00 | UK
Is e-mail out of Ctrl?
24 Feb 00 | UK
E-mail stress overload
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