back to article Email has workers tearing their hair out

Technology is an increasing source of stress to employees, according to recently published research, which said one third of workers were caused stress by email. Researchers at Glasgow University and Paisley University found the pressure to respond immediately to emails was a cause of stress for 34 per cent of employees. Women …


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  1. Greg Williams

    Yes, but...

    ... previously it was the big 'In' pile of paper causing the stress. No real big change I think.

  2. Neil Hoskins

    must... check...

    Must... check... el Reg... to see... what's.... happening...

  3. Mark

    Hands up

    Anyone who has told employers, staff, colleagues anything urgent mark it high priority, and forever since has had nothing but high priority mail dropped in their box since.

    Same happens with mobiles some people send texts now and expect an almost instant answer back.

  4. Smallbrainfield

    Mario Hair?

    Is that some sort of scalp condition amongst Italian plumbers?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Email notification

    So the result of the study is that most people don't use notification software. For example I set a notification tool to check my work email every hour and alert me with sound and a blinking taskbar icon when I get one. This software runs only on my workplace system, so I can be reached by email within an hour when I'm working. (and I never check my mail unless I get a notification) We have push email, we have timed email checks and most people still keep clicking on the reload button...

  6. MacroRodent Silver badge

    The technological solution...

    Just add a feature to the email server that queues mail so that it is delivered to recipients only at regular intervals (say hourly), and with NO way for the users to turn this queuing off or modify the interval. Users would know this, so they would have no temptation to poll the inbox all the time.

    If the article is right, this feature would be a major productivity enhancer. Maybe I should patent it... no, wait, some ancient email systems used to work more or less this way by default (UUCP systems would dial each other at scheduled intervals).

  7. Cameron Colley

    What about phones?

    Most people I work with have Outlook open all the time, with notifications set up for new email -- so we could be said to be checking our email constantly. However, in my experience people don't mind if you reply to am email five or ten minutes after it is sent, even if it's urgent.

    The big problem I find is the phone -- no matter what you are doing, or who you are talking to, the person on the end of the phone expects you to speak to them "now!!". I find this extends outside the workplace too -- how many times have you seen someone who is in conversation with someone, or buying a paper, drop what they're doing and answer the phone?

    I'm not saying that email doesn't cause stress, but I do think it is probably less stress-inducing than the telephone.

  8. Allan Rutland

    Sadly true

    Am with Neil on this one...can't go an hour without checking El Reg! As for the email isn't that what the spam filters for. Boss = Spam, Colleages = Spam. If they really want something important they can get off there backsides and come find you in the cupboard, or send some other poor gopher to find you.

    If not, than it can wait a few days till the spams emptied :P

  9. Julian Foxall

    Email gone mad

    My boss used to send me emails whilst sitting at the desk just 2 metres right behind me!

    A colleague, before going on holiday, warned people on his Out of Office Notice that, as he would be coming back to a mountain of emails, mostly not relevant to him in any way, he would be deleting the whole lot without reading them. Sensible man? His manager didn't think so.

    At only one place in my career has proper time manegment been implemented, and colleagues asked to look at their emails only twice a day, maximum. And get off their chairs and go talk to real live people. It worked.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compared to phone calls

    At least emails you can delay for a minute, or even just a couple of seconds... a ringing phone, or a colleague dropping by your desk is far more disruptive.

  11. Jason

    You know..

    You can configure your mail client to automatically send/recieve mail every X minutes, did they take configurations like this into account?

  12. Tom

    I can't help thinking...

    ... that this is all a bit stupid. I mean surely this just comes down to working habbits. People just need to work a bit more effectively if they feel e-mail is a "pressure". How hard can it be - check them when you come in to work, deal with them, check them again at lunchtime and again before you go home. How hard is that? If something is hugely urgent I'd consider it a bit silly to e-mail someone - how about phoning them, or, dare I say it, even walking over to talk to them in person?

    Funny how no one seems to get this same "pressure" to check voicemail...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Mario Hair

    Typical bloody B3ta response.

    : )

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real problem is "hot potato" syndrome

    On average, it takes me 45 minutes or so to properly respond to an email. You have to investigate the problem, verify your hypothisis, list all possible solutions, make a proposal, and format it in a way that the other party can understand.

    Some people however just seem to read the email, think about it for 15 seconds, then phrase a poorly worded response, and send it on its way. Usually it is CC'd to 5 other people, most of which to the same.

    The problem is that there are thread creators, bandwidth amplifiers, and finally, problem solvers. What people really need to resolve their email problems is an enforced policy of fully investigating all emails to the best of your ability before responding. But yeah, that'l never happen.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    out of office 'etiquette'

    I got reprimanded for setting my out of office rules and associated message to include: "if you only CC'ed me, I've set my mail client to automatically bin your message"

    Reprimanded for brutal honesty / reminder to 'reply to all' lazy b*****ds to think before they click - pah! Whatever next?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What else, pray tell, could I be distracted by?

    "...The more distracted you are by distractions..."

    Come on - if you're not being distracted by a distraction, what pray tell *are* you being distracted by?

  17. J


    "the typical worker checked email 30 to 40 times an hour"

    By Thor... And I thought I checked my email frequently. I mean, I don't check my work email, Thunderbird does it for me and lets me know. And it's not that exciting anyway. My personal email I do check myself though, but it's not even close to once an hour, let alone that madness of 30 to 40...

    People ought to chill out a bit, methinks...

  18. John W. Naylor, Jr., P.E.


    Not surprised women feel it more. My wife will drop anything to pick up a ringing phone whereas if I am just doing something of no great urgency, I am perfectly fine letting answering machine do it. Many companies had learned over the years to limit phone contact to "production" employees to certain times of the day. Yet, they institute no such policies for e-mail.

    To my mind, unless you are on "urgent call" or "immediate sales", anything more than twice a day is a time waster. If something is urgent and "can't wait", I'd suggest e-mail addicts consider this new invention called a phone.

  19. Matt Horrocks

    'Phones *are* worse

    We use Exchange/Outlook, so I don't need to check my e-mail, I get a notification when I receive a message. Then it waits until I'm not busy for me to read it.

    However the worst thing is the 'phone, especially if something like the mail server has gone down - endless calls with "Did you know e-mail is broken" - yes, but how am I meant to fix it whilst telling everyone on the 'phone that I *know* it isn't working. Results in me hitting DND when anything big happens and getting an angry boss after me when I forget to unset DND afterwards.

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