How many times have you found yourself reading those ‘increase your work productivity’ or ‘x tips to disconnect from tech’ posts? Technology is all around us and it has made our lives easier but with digital detox vacations being all the rage this summer there seems to be the feeling that maybe technology has intruded that little bit too much, and our poor wired brains need time to disconnect and recompose.
Those who get the shakes as soon as their smartphone is taken away from them will probably shun the idea of detox vacations but from recent data seen in the latest GFI Software Email Survey, it looks like there is a downward trend when it comes to people checking their work email outside of working hours.
Now in its third year, the Email Survey provided insight into the way employees interact with their work inboxes and the 2015 survey shows a decrease in the amount of time employees are choosing to check their emails outside work.
In 2014, 79 percent of those interviewed in the US said they check their work emails on the weekend, but in 2015, that dropped to 75 percent. In the UK, the drop was similar, from 78 to 73 percent – and there was an even higher drop when asked about how many times emails are checked during a vacation, which went down by 10 percent from 64 to 54 percent.
The study was conducted by independent research firm Opinion Matter who surveyed 1,000 employees, 500 from the US and UK, working in companies of up to 500 employees.
The proliferation of smartphones and cheap data plans make checking your work email as easy as simply launching an app on your phone. In the US, almost 40 percent said they checked their work email several times a day, with 25 percent of these saying they check their email in real-time. This contrasts with the 32 percent who said that do not check their work outside office hours.
It might be the case that people are choosing to check their work email out of either habit (or boredom) rather than actual need. From the replies in the US, three percent said they checked their email at a funeral, four percent while they, or their spouse, were in labor and six and a half percent said they refreshed their inbox during a wedding.
So what did the people taking the survey say when asked how long they take to answer an email? If you live in the UK it looks like 72 percent of employees will reply to your message within the hour, while if you live in the US you’re likely to have to wait a little longer since only 67 percent said they reply before the 60 minutes have passed. In both countries, 25 percent of those who answered the survey said they would usually reply within the first 15 minutes.
Interestingly enough, when asked about when they expect a response back to a business email the respondents were much more patient and only 54 percent in the US and 50 percent in the UK said they expected a reply within the hour.
The survey also gave a glimpse into the privacy concerns of the respondents. Both in the US (74 percent) and in the UK (77 percent) people revealed that they don’t use their work email for personal matters, showing a majority like to keep personal and business matters separate.
Even though email is still the preferred work communication method, face-to-face communication is making a comeback. In 2015, face-to-face meetings were ranked as second best form of communication in both the UK and the US. Their popularity increased to 29 percent, from 19 percent in the UK and 22 percent in the US. When it came to listing what makes email an annoyance spam was placed first and ‘emails CC’ed to large numbers of unnecessary people’ came in as a close second. But despite all of this email is still seen as a major benefit on both sides of the Atlantic and an average of 85 percent said that email is a blessing at work.
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