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British Report Details the Stress of Email Communication

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the yeah-way-rougher-than-construction-work dept.

The Internet 147

WaltonNews writes "British researchers have found that pressures from handling emails throughout the work day cause stress and frustration with workers. Researchers from a pair of collaborating universities have found that heavy email communication causes anxiety, with some workers thinking they checked their email as often as once every fifteen minutes. The reality was much worse. From the article: 'When researchers fitted monitors to their computers, workers were found to be viewing e-mails up to 40 times an hour. About 33 per cent said they felt stressed by the volume of e-mails and the need to reply quickly. A further 28 per cent said they felt "driven" when they checked messages because of the pressure to respond. Just 38 per cent of workers were relaxed enough to wait a day or longer before replying.'"

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147 comments

Personally (2, Funny)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225017)

I just don't care that much about my job. What's with people stressing out so much about some e-mail?

Frog with no legs becomes deaf. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20225233)

When researchers fitted monitors to their computers, workers were found to be viewing e-mails up to 40 times an hour

Well, duh! I'm guessing that workers without monitors fitted to their computers not only rarely checked their e-mail, but could not do much of anything with their computers.

Re:Personally (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20225255)

Think of it this way, it's kind of like the stress of reading /. and the pressure to first post.

Re:Personally (4, Insightful)

Inda (580031) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225269)

Aye, I find the delete button handles most of my email related stress.

Re:Personally (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20225479)

Ha! You're fired, Scott.

Re:Personally (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225483)

Its true; alot of stress is self created. Especially those people that get offended so easily.

I think though this shows that people can't properly prioritize what they need to do. I personally look at each email as it comes in, but I don't get a constant stream. Those that do should check less frequently, and prioritize the important ones from less important emails. Most email clients have ways to mark emails so that you can set a follow up deadline and such. Its just a matter of learning how to deal properly.

Re:Personally (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226107)

just don't care that much about my job. What's with people stressing out so much about some e-mail?

You got modded funny, but this is pretty insightful.

In fact, it's pretty much my attitude at work. I maybe check my work email 5 or 6 times a day, and reply to emails as I see fit. At the end of the day, I'm either doing my job or not. Whether I assuage somebody's ego by quick reply is not my fucking problem.

Granted, we're not an ubercorp, so your mileage may vary.

38% ? (1)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225045)

Just 38 per cent of workers were relaxed enough to wait a day or longer before replying.
With the people around my office, that figure sounds awfully high.

I'd like to see a report on the stress of Slashdot communication. I probably fall into the "Obsessive F5ers" category.

Re:38% ? (1)

mroberts47 (1073802) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225097)

I have a dual monitor setup at work and my email (outlook) is displayed on the second monitor and I just see them as they come in. I would wonder what percent of employees (more in the IT field than other areas I would suppose) would respond that they are in a way 'always' checking their email just because of the way they have their email client displayed.

Re:38% ? (1)

gallwapa (909389) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225611)

I've got 5 monitors attached to my workstation and 2 laptops. On those screens I also have several remote terminal sessions to my various virtual machines to handle my non-linux tasks. On top of that, I've got compiz/xgl with multiple workspaces that I keep e-mail on and flip to it when I see something run across groupwise notify.

I don't feel stress about e-mail. I'm excellent at multi-tasking and know how to prioritize various issues in my work. Any stress sounds like a personal problem. :)

Re:38% ? (1)

Monoliath (738369) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226353)

I agree that this is the most efficient way to solve the problem that this article is discussing.

Heh, I have to admit, I check my email a billion times a day, but it doesn't stress me out at all. I prefer handling communication over email than over the phone which is even more distracting.

As someone stated in an earlier post, the stress is caused by lack of prioritization and self control on the users part.

Re:38% ? (1)

vondiggity (1038522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225201)

Sheesh, my email client is set to check every five minutes. I usually reply as soon as possible if the mail is important.

Re:38% ? (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226031)

and i just learned that F5 works in Opera in Linux... hmm...

Re:38% ? (1)

antarctican (301636) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226115)

Just 38 per cent of workers were relaxed enough to wait a day or longer before replying.

With the people around my office, that figure sounds awfully high.


I was actually thinking that 38% must be pointy haired bosses....

If I don't do it then, I forget (2, Insightful)

jcarkeys (925469) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225053)

I don't know about most of you, but if I don't respond to an email pretty much when I get it, then I'm much more likely to forget to reply to it. That's part of the reason I compulsively check email and respond to it immediately. I don't think it's stressful though.

Re:If I don't do it then, I forget (1)

daveewart (66895) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225103)

I don't know about most of you, but if I don't respond to an email pretty much when I get it, then I'm much more likely to forget to reply to it.

If you keep your inbox largely clear, then this shouldn't happen. Turn email messages into "To-do" items on your To-Do list, or turn them into items on your calendar. Replying immediately is a good idea if you are able to, of course. Using your inbox as a To-Do list is not, generally, a good idea, although some may find it is OK.

Re:If I don't do it then, I forget (2, Interesting)

sg3000 (87992) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225227)

> If you keep your inbox largely clear, then this shouldn't happen.

It's funny to see how people manage their in-boxes. I do many of the suggestions you listed, and I have my email client only check my email once every 15 minutes (and even then, I have a set of carefully designed rules to filter out stuff I don't need to respond to in that time period). I don't have my Blackberry buzz me about new emails, so I only look at it when I've got time. I've found that this has helped me manage my work load quite a bit (thus, freeing up time talking about it on Slashdot).

However, my boss's in-box is hilarious. He easily has thousands of unread messages, and he's always complaining that the IT department doesn't give us a large enough in-box capacity. He is also like one of those people that has dozens (hundreds?) of files on his Windows desktop, rather than filing them away. I think this is due to many people having an out of sight, out of mind issue. If they don't have their emails or files staring at them all the time, they'll forget they're there, and they won't know how to quickly find them again.

It depends a lot on your job and your company (4, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225373)

At my company, email is the primary communication mechanism. I easily get over 100 emails a day that should be responded to by someone, with about 50% of them being "group" mails to more than one person, or to an entire team, which I may or may not respond to directly depending on if I have anything to say.

None of these are "to do" items, they are part of a conversation flow that has to take place between the team and the management in order to get things done. Some companies do this in group meetings, some do it in a top-down delegation approach. Mine does it with email. As such, I check my email around every 2-3 minutes at least, quickly scanning the inbox for messages that pertain to me.

I don't feel it "stressful" though - it is part of the job.

This is why I think stories like this are pointless. You can't take any group of people and generally classify them as checking email too often or too little unless you know the specifics of their job and company and how they use email in their day-to-day life. 150 emails in one day is nothign to me, but I know people in other jobs who would be freaked out if they had to deal with 5 per hour.

Re:It depends a lot on your job and your company (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225759)

I check my email around every 2-3 minutes at least, quickly scanning the inbox for messages that pertain to me.

How do you have time to get any actual work done, or is your job checking email?

Re:It depends a lot on your job and your company (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225843)

It takes all of 1-2 seconds to scan through your inbox and see if any of the 10 new messages need a reply.

Re:If I don't do it then, I forget (2, Funny)

ginbot462 (626023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225423)

> Turn email messages into "To-do" items on your To-Do list, or turn them into items on your calendar.

This item is actually on my TODO list. And that TODO list is also on a larger meta-TODO list. And that meta-list is stored in a binary format whose reader's code looks like // XXX: TODO - write comment about how I need to write a reader to read my meta-TODO list that includes multiple TODO lists one which has an item about replying to email should be put into a TODO list // PS need to learn you can use punctuation and keep commments below 81 chars

Re:If I don't do it then, I forget (2, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225501)

Why not just flag it for follow up or something similar so you don't forget about it?

A day? For an email? While you're in the office? (4, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225069)

Are you sure that 38% was "relaxed" enough, or were they just blowing off the writer?

A bigger question is: Who polls their email client at work anymore? All of the modern clients have some sort of pop-up that will notify you when you have new mail, often with a tiny excerpt from the mail right in the window so you know if you need to read it or not. The only time I actually check the client is when I've been away from the desk for awhile and want to see what I've missed. There is no reason to keep opening up the client and manually pressing refresh.

Also, in my experiance if someone who is in the office doesn't reply to your email within a few hours they probably never will.

Re:A day? For an email? While you're in the office (1)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225265)

Who polls their email client at work anymore?

I was wondering the same thing. What is this "checking" they speak of? I don't even need to check Gmail. I can minimize the window and tell at a glance at the taskbar if there's a new message or not. and Outlook has the friendly pop up with summary. I can glance at the email and decide if I need to even read the whole thing or not.

I think this article is long on hysteria and short on common sense. Consider this:

About 33 per cent said they felt stressed by the volume of e-mails and the need to reply quickly. A further 28 per cent said they felt "driven" when they checked messages because of the pressure to respond. Just 38 per cent of workers were relaxed enough to wait a day or longer before replying.

I think that for may people email replaces phone conversations. Who at work feels like they can just ignore the phone on a regular basis? Who feels that you can leisurely return a call after waiting longer than a day? In short: how much of this stress has anything to do with email and how much is just the stress of rapid communication no matter what form it's in? The important variable is not an individual's attitude towards email, it's what their job requires from them in terms of responsiveness. I'm an analyst. I can frequently delay an email up to a week if it's on a back-burner project. If the sales guys wait a day to call their clients and prospects back (or return an email) they are in trouble.

It has nothing to do with my personality vs. the sales guy, it's the nature of analytic work vs. services/sales work.

Re:A day? For an email? While you're in the office (1)

jon_anderson_ca (705052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225955)

Actually, I'd rather poll my e-mail a few times a day than have every new e-mail announce itself (distracting me from whatever I was doing). For me, the point of e-mail is that it's not the phone.

Re:A day? For an email? While you're in the office (1)

ruben.gutierrez (913239) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226357)

I have a notification which presents itself in the system tray, rather than as a pop-up. The pop-up exists by default, but you can turn it off. This seems to work best since I don't have to "poll" every so often, I'm still notified, and I'm not interrupted. It's probably the one feature of... well, I'd rather not say which e-mail client my org uses... okay... it's Lotus Notes, alright!

Re:A day? For an email? While you're in the office (1)

ruben.gutierrez (913239) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225417)

I second... or third that. Checking e-mail? That's so 1990's. But, seriously, I would suggest poor communication skills as more of a stress inducing aspect of e-mail. How many people do you know can effectively communicate through e-mail without several successive replies? Telephone and face-to-face conversations are usually much more effective when one party doesn't communicate well. If someone sends me an e-mail which doesn't make sense to begin with, I don't waste time trying to extract their meaning through e-mail. I do a face-to-face. It's a lot less frustrating.

Re:A day? For an email? While you're in the office (1)

twms2h (473383) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226321)

Who polls their email client at work anymore? All of the modern clients have some sort of pop-up that will notify you when you have new mail
That's why I have set my email client to check for mail only every 30 minutes. It is just too distracting to have it tell me about new mail every few minutes. If it can't wait 30 minutes, the sender should have called me.

Also, in my experiance if someone who is in the office doesn't reply to your email within a few hours they probably never will.
That's probably true. I sometimes leave emails in the inbox to remind me to do something (I am too lazy to copy the stuff to a todo list), but that's usually not because it requires an answer but contains an action item.

Re:A day? For an email? While you're in the office (1)

Just some bastard (1113513) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226745)

A bigger question is: Who polls their email client at work anymore?


Guilty, I use pine and miss or ignore delivery notices. Not just if I'm away from my desk, also if I have the (xfce) terminal minimized or I'm working in an alternate tab.

Admittedly, I'm not the typical user; I'd prefer to use telnet than a so-called 'modern client'.

Re:A day? For an email? While you're in the office (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226771)

Yes, I just love pop-ups that tell me I can have a larger penis.

wait a day? unheard of! (3, Interesting)

wilsonjd (597750) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225071)

If I wait a day to respond to emails at work, I will get an email from my manager asking why I haven't responded to Most coworkers can't wait for email. They IM and expect immediate response.

Re:wait a day? unheard of! (2, Interesting)

ghoul (157158) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225409)

Actually I have been trying to convince coworkers that if they need something immediately and it is a something I can answer off the top of my mind without interrupting what I am doing just IM. Reserve email for issues which will need me to stop what I am working on and spend some time writing an answer and in such cases expect a reply by eod or next day not immediately.
I am still obsessive about checking email so now I have taken to completely shutting down outlook and starting it once every hour.
Filters help and they would work even better if people would use the low importance flag on articles and jokes they forward. Dont get me wrong I appreciate the forwards but the flag would let me know its something I can look at at the eod.

Re:wait a day? unheard of! (3, Funny)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225597)

They IM and expect immediate response.
Ring them up and tell them to stop bothering you.

Ummm... Who Cares. (1)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225075)

Yeah, I use emails often, but i see it as a tool and nothing more. there is no reason to get stressed over using tools. Do you stress out over using a hammer? if not, then why emails? is this because of human interaction?

Re:Ummm... Who Cares. (-1, Offtopic)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225183)

Replace Hammer with Visual Studio 2005 and I will hold my hand up.

Its a pile of half hearted wank and my productivity drops when I use it.
The whole .net enterprise feels half finished and lacks important development features whilst emphasizing the shiny.

The help documentation is a joke, the editor routinely makes me want to pull my hair out (whats the point of an indenting editor if it drops the indent after 1 line?), where tooltips actively block the data I am trying to click on and the intellisense gets in the way.

Its like the developers took all the good stuff from the original Visual Studio environment and actively coded around them.

just grrrrrrrrr

Actually, having said that it sounds like most recent MS stuff.

Re:Ummm... Who Cares. (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225545)

Heh.. nice attempt at a troll. Its too bad you're offtopic, it makes it obvious you're trolling.

Re:Ummm... Who Cares. (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225733)

I wish I was trolling, it really is that bad.
I only mentioned VS because thats what I work with for most of the time.

I have similar gripes with outlook (on-topic) if you want to hear them?

Re:Ummm... Who Cares. (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226335)

I guess you just suck at your job them, as myself and thousands of other developers are using VS just fine.

No, keep your troll stories to yourself plese. You had outlook stories yet decided to bring VS into the mix for really no reason at all. Its not even remotely related..

Who checks their email? (1)

Shimdaddy (898354) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225083)

Seriously, who "checks" their email these days? I just assumed everyone used gmail notifier, or outlook, or kontact, or thunderbird, or one of the zillion other programs that tell you when you have new email.

Re:Who checks their email? (3, Insightful)

MartinG (52587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225177)

I find those kinds of notifications just as distracting as the phone ringing. Yes, I can ignore either, but I'd rather finish what I'm doing and check my emails at a convenient point.

Personally, I find email the best form of communication by far for work related issues. I can point people back to what I said earlier when they can't remember it, I don't get interrupted as readily, and I can refer back to what others have said and remind them of it later.

Re:Who checks their email? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225577)

I find a phone call much less distracting. For a phone call, I have to stop typing, look away from the computer and answer it. I can't easily go back to work, the call takes up more time than reading an email quickly.

Email turnaround (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20225105)

Nowadays it seems like you need to be responding to any email within about 1 hour. Anything else is considered almost rude.

Not new (2, Insightful)

Zurd3 (574979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225107)

Some people have anxiety when taking a flight, going out of their houses, being in confined spaces, etc. And some people have anxiety with e-mail, nothing new here, move along.

Forty times an hour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20225131)

Slashdot, maybe, but email? Hard to believe.

Let me first forward this link (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225141)

to everyone in my .mailrc. Then I will read about whats the matter with the emails.

Stupid Newspaper Backlashes the Messenger (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225147)

The study didn't even take into account whether the emails in question were urgent or not. Maybe the problem is that everyone is so overworked, not that the work is coming in email. If the messages weren't urgent, but people were as obsessed as that study concludes, then its conclusions would be valid. But if they are urgent, is that the fault of email? Has everyone been stressed out for a century by "the telephone", or by the transformation of our jobs into ones that are largely talking with each other about delegated and collaborated production work?

Are they freaked out that people are "driven" to get into cars and trains every day, sometimes for hours, as part of our work?

Really, what is the baseline against which this "abnormal email stress" is being measured? I suspect that it's the usual imaginary baseline in "the good old days" that tabloid newspapers have been inventing since... the good old days.

Is ignorance bliss? (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225153)

Email is the "situational awareness" of the workplace. I don't understand how having better visibility, through better communications, is "more stressful". To me, it is empowering and makes me feel BETTER about being on top of things. To me, it is far more stressful "being in the dark" - I'd rather be "in the know". I guess for some people ignorance really is bliss.

Re:Is ignorance bliss? (1)

sg3000 (87992) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225309)

> To me, it is empowering and makes me feel BETTER about being on top of things.

That's a good point, but I think the concern can be that being cc'ed on too many things can be overwhelming.

At my company (foreign owned by a country known for being hierarchical and process oriented), people are used to cc'ing their managers on even routine emails. In the U.S., this would be viewed as micromanagement and the opposite of delegating, but for them, it's a way for their managers to be confident that things are progressing smoothly. We have people from different cultures on our team, so we get a lot of clashing from that perspective.

Personally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20226269)

I check digg and /. more than I check my email.

Well, duh... (1)

Tickenest (544722) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225157)

When researchers fitted monitors to their computers, workers were found to be viewing e-mails up to 40 times an hour.

Of course they start checking their email frantically once the mean old researchers give the workers their monitors back.

If you treat e-mail (3, Interesting)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225187)

like a phone call, yeah, it can drive you bats. The thing about e-mail is that you can read it and leave it until/if you want to compose an answer. A problem some people have is they feel they have to answer each e-mail as if the person was right in front of them. If something begs an answer I usually give it to them. If it is important, I phone. In a lot of offices, e-mail has replaced memos which rarely required an answer, immediate or otherwise.

Myself, if the e-mail has no subject, I delete it, it is is just a statement without a question, I delete it. After that, judge accordingly. People make their own stress. It's almost like a drug.

Re:If you treat e-mail (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225547)

OK. Please confirm receipt of my reply.

Re:If you treat e-mail (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225687)

You don't have to treat the phone as an immediate response either. We've had a Pavlovian response burned into our collective behavior over the past 50 years that we must pick up the phone when it rings. But you don't. Unless it's a special on-call phone/number or you're expecting a call which demands immediate attention, there's nothing wrong (IMHO) with letting it roll to voicemail after screening the number.

I treat my phone as being there for my convenience, not someone else's.

Re:If you treat e-mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20225837)

True at home, harder to do at work

Procrastination (1)

pzs (857406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225189)

Maybe they've got it backwards. Personally, I spend a lot of my day hitting the "check new mail" button - if somebody mails me, I can respond to that, rather than doing actual work.

Peter

Increasingly amazed (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225211)

how people feel so much pressure to be in touch all the time. No, I am not a CEO nor do I run a NOC, where I can see how near instant communication can be critical. I suspect that most people have some psychological need to be always available.

I will check my email if I am expecting something important. Everyone I deal with knows how to get in touch with me if something unexpected comes up. I once had an office mate that would email me a simple yes/no question if I was in the restroom at the time rather than wait 30 seconds to ask me in person- and then ask me to check my email when I returned from said restroom. And it wasn't important so as to need a paper trail, it had to do with something like did I get some memo.

It seems like everyone has forgot how to speak and would prefer an Outer Limits episode where everyone is WiFied into a central Skynet contraption. Look at the huge uproar that occurred by banning college football coaches from texting prospective recruits.

Re:Increasingly amazed (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225617)

I once had an office mate that would email me a simple yes/no question if I was in the restroom at the time rather than wait 30 seconds to ask me in person- and then ask me to check my email when I returned from said restroom. And it wasn't important so as to need a paper trail, it had to do with something like did I get some memo.

To me that's where IM fits in; quick, trivial questions.

Hey, that reminds, me, I gotta... (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225217)

...check my email. Be right back.

my old job (3, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225225)

At my old job I was always getting a steady stream of emails. The way I handled it was by setting up filters in Outlook to separate things into folders/subfolders (thankfully many of my emails were machine-generated due to various event triggers, which made this whole system possible). I also set Outlook not to auto-mark messages as read--I had to do it myself. I would then use this arrangement of folders to prioritize my workload. When I responded to a message or completed the task it outlined, I would mark it read. It made for a very convenient way to measure my workload in different categories (4 messages in folder X, 11 in folder Y, 2 in folder Z--Let's knock out folder Y first). This also ensured that I responded to every single email, instead of seeing more than a few slip through the cracks because I forgot about them (which seemed to happen to just about everyone else in the office at some point or another).

Re:my old job (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225297)

Absolutely right. I do something similar - why on Earth would I want my inbox clogged up with email from the various monitoring systems and backup systems I run?

Yet IME, 95% of people never even look at this filtering capability.

The cure (1)

ArcadeX (866171) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225257)

I'm at a remote site, on a customer's network. If they are having that much stress and spending that much time checking email, but them on a web based client, it'll slow them down bigtime.../grumbles about OWA...

Only 40 times/hour? (1)

matt328 (916281) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225277)

That's nothing, the last place I worked as the only computer tech they had, they insisted I set everyone's outlook to automatically check for messages every 1 minute. They were quite appalled when I told them that was the smallest increment Outlook would let them, they originally wanted it ever 15 seconds. What's sad is most of them will sit and hammer the send/receive button furiously.

Re:Only 40 times/hour? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225639)

Hmm... should have just setup and exchange server. You're pretty much notified immedately when there is new mail. No need for Send / Receive.

Re:Only 40 times/hour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20226257)

Doesn't IMAP also have a sort of "push" method of message notification to clients where the clients don't even have to do the polling themself as long as the server supports it?

researchers fitted monitors? (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225281)

You mean they didn't already have them?

Brits worry too much (2, Funny)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225287)

Most of the "sky is falling" articles come from the UK especially global warming. I immediately discount any news article from UK.

Re:Brits worry too much (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225461)

Not at all, we're not a nation of worriers, we're a nation of complainers - they just often manifest in the same way.

Re:Brits worry too much (2, Funny)

ucla74 (1093323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226663)

In the UK, the sky usually IS falling.

Who Checks Their E-Mail (1)

sjaguar (763407) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225293)

I rarely do a manual check of my e-mail. I let other software monitor my e-mail. Aside from the content, I do not stress over the sending/receiving/replying of e-mail. In fact it eases stress by not checking e-mail.

Depending on my workload, I respond to short/easy e-mails within fifteen minutes. Everything else gets some sort of reply by the end of the business day (but not necessarily a solution).

What's with the British today? (1)

JosefAssad (1138611) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225387)

From: CEO@forensicts.co.uk
To: security@forensicts.co.uk
Subject: Stolen server

Have you found our stolen server yet? I emailed you about it two hours ago and haven't heard back from you yet.

Regards,

Mildred T. Winterbottom, CEO

Re:What's with the British today? (1)

thetroll123 (744259) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225887)

We don't go in for that middle initial crap here.

Breaking News (1)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225429)

This just in....work is stressful.

Email is a symptom, not a cause (2, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225435)

I generally keep my inbox clear. The only things in my inbox are things I need to get back to. Email is nice, because I can get back to them as-needed.

However, at my current job, my inbox is a 10 page mess. This isn't because I don't manage email properly - it's a symptom of the organization. Email doesn't cause stress any more than phone calls or postal mail. It becomes stressful if the job is stressful.

Bah! (2, Funny)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225455)

You think e-mail gives you stress?

I've got 4 mod points left and everytime I log onto /. it keeps saying 'Use 'em or lose 'em'. Now that's what I call stress.

Re:Bah! (1)

David_W (35680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226101)

I've got 4 mod points left and everytime I log onto /. it keeps saying 'Use 'em or lose 'em'.

And worse yet, by replying to this article you've blocked a chance at using them!

Prioritization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20225473)

If it came through e-mail, it's not important, because if it were important, the person would have called. Therefore, no e-mail is worth stopping what I was doing to respond.

QED.

For example, as I typed this Dell managed to get some spam through to me. I'll be ignoring that shortly.

fa6;orz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20225525)

would mar xBSD's [goat.cx]

40 emails an hour...??? (1)

realsilly (186931) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225571)

With our commincation process changing from Face to Face conversations, to Hard line Phone conversations, to Mobile phone (on the go) discussions, to Faxes, to Electonic documents, to Email, to Blackberry mail, to IM Text messages, and now to Phone text messages. Email is easy.

This makes you start to wonder how much of this email is truely work related? Friends, Family, e-vites, Amazon, e-bay, spam, and other such non-work related emails, or all work related???

Now I can understand if this is the new trend in Work emails where higher managers are trying to drive complete projects with 1 sentence emails that usually end up in the subject line (so they fit on a Blackberry). I know of a company that I used to work at that has managers doing that.

Another question one might ask, how much time could have been saved with a 5 minute Face to Face rather than 40+ emails? Face to face reduces so much stress in people, you can read emotions, facial expressions. One can't do that as easily in emails.

"Relaxed enough"? (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225587)

Just 38% were "relaxed enough" to wait a day or more to answer the phone, too. Hope you like hold music.

Seriously, is this all that bad? I check my mail whenever I have an idle cycle or three, and that often means that I get things done sooner rather than later. Similarly, probably the biggest single waste of time in my day is waiting on responses to things that I really wanted a response on soon.

Simple solution (1)

Balroneon (727034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225609)

I would like to know how workers used their computers before "researchers fitted monitors to their computers". I've tried to use my computer without any monitors, and its hard to use the mouse without them. I guess if you don't want the stress of email communication at work, you just have to remove the monitors from your computer, problem solved!

Over-inflated sense of self-importance (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225635)

I think a lot of people like to over-inflate the importance of their work. Pissant office workers from low level managers to data entry workers to mail room clerks enjoy furrowing their brow a lot and pretending that the economies of several western nations may come crashing down if they don't do their job. These are people whose sense of self worth comes from their job, they fail to realize that for people in their position, working is simply a means to an end.

These are the people that stress about email and check it every 30 seconds. It's not because they feel they have to, it's because (possibly subconsciously) they want to. The more stressful their job is (in their mind) the more important their job is and the more important they are. Personally, I do my job and I do it well, but I don't get stressed about anything. It's not worth it.

Re:Over-inflated sense of self-importance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20225775)

Your post says more about you than it does of other people.

I suggest you have someone read it to you.

Mod parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20225923)

See subject.

40? (1)

lonechicken (1046406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225689)

researchers fitted monitors to their computers, workers were found to be viewing e-mails up to 40 times an hour
Slackers! Going back and forth among my work, main, and secondary email accounts, my number has got to be close to one per minute.

I also find email can be a stress reliever. (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225731)

I also find email can be a stress reliever. I get a lot of emails that deal with routine issues. If I have some complicated decision or other source of stress, it can be useful to just devote half an hour or so to dealing with routine stuff, which is varied enough to take my mind off of the day's crisis. Frequently, by the time I'm done, the answer I am seeking pops into my head.

Not just email (3, Insightful)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225781)

Seems like one of the popular business fads of the moment is "having a sense of urgency". Have you heard this one? Your boss or executive manager probably has this buzz-phrase in his vocabulary. Everything is "urgent" now: From project completion to making your numbers, to handling unexpected events, to your everyday communication. URGENT! URGENT!! Every E-mail MUST be responded to, instantly! URGENT! Your competitors check their E-mail 20 times an hour, so it's urgent that you check 40 times an hour!! Every communication is of top importance, every bug is priority one, every E-mail is URGENT!

I've seen offices where you'd get an E-mail, and if you didn't respond within a few minutes, you'd get an I.M. and if you didn't respond to that within a few seconds, it's a telephone call, and if you don't answer, someone will breathlessly rush to your desk to ask you face-to-face what flavor of coffee should get brewed next in the break room.

No wonder people are getting stressed out. I think it's URGENT that we all take a break and realize that your business is not going to go up in flames if you relax and have normal paced communications.

Stories like this always remind me ... (0)

tobyp (10493) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225783)

... of the what the late, great Australian cricketer and WW2 Mosquito pilot Keith Miller had to say about stress:

"When athletes nowadays talk of pressure they only reveal what they don't know of life. They've never had a Messerschmitt up their arse. That's pressure."

Exactly.

Very odd (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225885)

These are some strange findings...
I prefer email precisely because i can respond at my leisure, as opposed to a phonecall where you really are on the spot and forced to reply immediately. I will often take my time responding to email, thinking of what to write and the best way to get my point across. On the phone you dont have such time to think, thats why a lot of aggressive people (headhunters, salesmen) prefer to call you.
Also, why bother checking email repeatedly, does your mail client not notify you in some way when you have new mail?

It's me (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 6 years ago | (#20225899)

This article is a lot about people like me.

I'm in a mildly technical role, no development or anything like that - essentially I'm a product manager. On a day between 9am and 6pm I will receive, on average, one email just under every 3 minutes (about 180+ a day). Of these, about 50% of them are directed at me which require a response. 10% are from members of my team which are outward communication that I need to know about because, as the product manager, if someone asks you a question, they expect you to know the answer. 40% of them are chains.

I spend, on average, 20 hours a week in meetings. That means that over the course of a week 400 emails arrive when I'm not physically at my computer. Of which 200 require a response from me.

As an addition to the meetings, I have to actually do some work. However for every three minutes I'm working on a proposition document, roadmap, presentation or what-have-you, another email has dropped into my inbox.

Messages on group distribution lists aren't counted. They're filtered away and I only rarely read them - as a consequence, I often miss out on company information. When I went on holiday three months ago for two weeks, upon my return, I moved all emails sent during that time into a separate folder which I would go back and review once I'd done the more recent stuff. With this I assumed that 80% of people would have got the answer they wanted whilst I was away. Fast forward to today and I haven't touched the folder. It still contains the 1,921 emails. All unread.

At present my inbox has 458 emails, 381 of them are unread and 77 are marked for follow-up. I use the conversation mode in Outlook to easily spot conversation threads and jump over them. I colour messages with me in the cc grey so that I don't prioritise them over the ones in blue which are directed at me. Ones from key people (my boss, board members, marketing) are in a different colour for importance. I don't have the pop-up telling me every time I have new email otherwise I'd never be able to work. I check email and respond when I can.

My turn around for email (assuming I do it in strict order) is a response about three days after it was sent and, for many people, it isn't good enough. I've been told I need to get that down to the point when I can respond in less than an hour. If I reverse it and start at the most recent, then people complain that I haven't responded to their earlier email.

This is inbox overload. It's hell.

Re:It's me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20226387)

Hey Mr. Silver,

Email is not the problem but your job is, or at least the unrealistic expectations that you are trying to live up to. If you can't handle it either reorganize (get help)/push back (lower expectations) or find yourself a different job.

Twenty years ago you would have had the same problem but than in the form of a stack of inter office memo's and phone line that was ringing when you entered the office and was still ringing when you were trying to leave at 9 p.m.

Perhaps the only thing you can blame email for is that most people have been to eager to respond to emails creating a slew of people out there that think that there only job is to pass on problems instead of solving the problem themselves. The best way to deal with a lot of your emails is probably to reply with RTFM or let them sit there for 3 weeks (instead of 3 days) and see how important they were.

Good luck to you!

The monitors are the important part (4, Funny)

Jay L (74152) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226051)

When researchers fitted monitors to their computers, workers were found to be viewing e-mails up to 40 times an hour.

Workers using computers without monitors checked their e-mail far less often.

Waiting a day? (0)

madsheep (984404) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226085)

Just 38 per cent of workers were relaxed enough to wait a day or longer before replying.
Wow, there's your source of frustration. The point of e-mail and IT is to speed things along. That's why we aren't sending snail mail to our co-workers. Waiting a day or longer? What the hell kind of business is this. That's not relaxed, that's absurd. If you're waiting a day to answer all your e-mails, I hope you get fired. You are slowing down business and time is money.

U.K. nanny state will pass a law (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226099)

I'm sure the Mandarins of low impact multicultural fat free no smoking bike helmets for everyone in the UK will soon pass a law limiting the number of emails one is allowed to see in a day with harsh penalties if they exceed that.

Casual responses (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226129)

> Just 38 per cent of workers were relaxed enough to wait a day or longer before replying.'

They were called, "management."

Who cares? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226179)

I further care about those people who freak out over e-mail. A decade ago they were freaking out over phone messages and checking them every 15. COD. So what?

Time Management (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226351)

No stress compared to the telephone. Just allocate an amount of time every hour or two to deal with it. Prioritize the inbox stuff, handle the important issues and let the rest sit.


I used to work for an outfit where managers refused to leave messages on e-mail, voicemail, pagers, call outside numbers (cell phones, for example) or write memos. If employees didn't pick up their phones at any time, they'd throw a fit. Now that's stress.

Email organization (1)

British (51765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226355)

I try to pidgeonhole all my emails. This is needed since I get a TON of automated emails from machines telling me about builds, and status of testing of emails. Those are so predictable I can get outlook filter them easily.

The problem I ran into is the frenzy of "out of the office" emails for telecommuting. Everyone around here has a unique way of expressing that they are not in the office. Instead of a nice "OOTO TC"-prefixed email, I get "W@H"," out of the office","OTOO","offline for a bit". It's like they are trying to dodge my filters, as if it was spam. Worse yet are the "I'm going out to lunch" emails, as if we needed to know the whereabouts of you every 5 minutes. I get these emails literally every 10 minutes. It clogs up the "unread mails" folder too.

Yes, my "OOTO Spam" MS Outlook rule grows by the week with new subject line headers. Anything to jam on that "you have unopened items" sys tray icon in Outlook that seems impossible to shut down via rules.

Very interesting... (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226705)

That is a very interesting point. I would like to mention... Hang on...
[checks email]
In this day, with mobile computing on the rise...Hang on...
[checks email]
What are the social implications of...Hang on... [checks email]
Nevermind, someone just sent me the video of the monkey peeing in his own mouth, I've gotta watch!

What happened to phones? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226709)

When something is important enough that it requires an IMMEDIATE response, reach for the phone and dial the number. When you use EMail with me, you accept that I answer as soon as the situation warrants it.

EMail is useful, but two things it is not:

First and foremost, a way to transfer files. Put the item in question on some server and send a link. The overhead is really amazing when sending content via mail that doesn't consist entirely of text (and yes, this includes Word-Files, dear managers!).

And second, an immediate response medium. EMail is neither phone nor IM. If anything, it's quite a lot like an answering machine. You get, at best, the information that your message has been stored and will be relayed to your communication partner as soon as he gets time to check his "answering machine" (or inbox). Just the fact that some mail was sent is in no way ensuring that whoever received it also immediately reads it.

Dear managers of this planet: Start using the proper tools for the proper application. Use IM or phone for a two way communication. Use mail for one way information transfer. Use FTP for data transfer.

I hate the phone a lot more than e-mail (1)

ucla74 (1093323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20226741)

With e-mail, at least I know what the sender wants, and decide accordingly if, when, and how to respond. But when the phone rings, all I know is whether it's Corporate, a colleague on-site, or an off-site call. Worse is the "Message Waiting" light: Generally, that means someone wants to sell me something, or Corporate wants to introduce stress into my otherwise serene worklife.

And way too often, the message is "I have a question, call me when you get this." WTF? What's the damn question? Why didn't you ask it when you left your message, so I could, oh...do some research and have an answer for you, to save BOTH OF US some time?

We bitch about people who can't write clear, concise emails, but most phone messages are worse.

More email, and fewer phone messages. PLEASE!
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