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Email: Business' Biggest Time Waster

Email: Business' Biggest Time Waster Is Costing Companies A Fortune.

Email has often been described as the "killer software application". New evidence indicates that this might literally be true, with email found to be choking productivity by stealth.

A variety of studies have confirmed that it is now common for office workers to spend an average of one to two hours each day receiving, checking, preparing, and sending email messages.

Unrestricted volume and often irrelevant content are consuming productivity, raising stress levels and making it harder for employees to focus on core tasks. According to Neil Hymans, principal of Perth business communication consultancy Technically Speaking, email is now out of control in much of the corporate world.

"There's a solid body of research into email use highlighting the damage it is doing. But the news isn't completely bleak – companies can regain control if they choose to. With the potential to win back 60 to 90 minutes of productive time each day from many employees, the effort seems a very worthwhile one."

Mr Hymans believes that the popularity of the medium and its unstructured introduction into the workplace are at the heart of the problem. "Only a few years ago, the one or two hours of the day now devoted to email were spent on other tasks. If - as the research indicates - fewer than a quarter of all email messages require an urgent response, you can't help wondering whether email is the productivity powerhouse that most people assume it to be."

This message is now striking a chord in businesses of all sizes, he says. "Every time I raise this subject with senior managers, there is acknowledgement that no one has any idea of how much time email sucks up. Although everyone agrees that email is a critical communication tool, there is an almost universal sense of resignation that it's out of control and that any notion of 'best email practice' is a total mystery."


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