Email Exacerbates Workplace Stress

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-08-15 Print this article Print

Working late again and wondering where the day went? Are you stressed and frustrated and can't seem to get a handle on your time? Oh, look: You've got mail!

Admit it. Did you just drop everything you were doing to check an email that was, in all likelihood, some variety of spam or irrelevant snippets? If so, you are not alone. British researchers at Glasgow and Paisley Universities have found that the pressures from handling a constant influx of email throughout the workday takes an exasperating toll on workers. Worse yet, heavy email communication causes anxiety.

Statistician Mario Hair and computer science professor Dr. Karen Renaud monitored 177 employees in order to find out how they deal with their never-ending deluges of emails at work and found that the sheer volume of email they receive caused one-third of respondents to feel stressed out, a feeling which is worsened by their feeling of obligation to respond to them quickly.

From there, the statistics got uglier: Workers were found to be viewing emails up to 40 times an hour. 28 percent said they felt "driven" when they checked messages because of the pressure to respond. More than a third checked email every fifteen minutes and 64 percent said that they checked email more than once an hour. Only 38 percent of workers were relaxed enough to wait a day or longer before replying to an email.

Those laboring in creative jobs such as writers, journalists, academics and architects were likely to be worst affected as that type of work typically requires longer periods of deep concentration.

The report concluded that workers should avoid constantly monitoring their inbox as much as possible, by turning off the automatic notifications of new mail and setting aside dedicated email-reading times throughout their day and not wavering from them. |

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