According to independent research on workplace communications commissioned by Plantronics, European managers spend at least 2 hours per day dealing with email communications. This equates to a staggering 10 years of a worker’s life spent emailing.

This news, that makes our old RSI injuries ache just reading about it, also reveals that 3 and a half years of a working life spent emailing are a complete waste of time, since 32% of messages read and sent are considered irrelevant.

The Plantronics study discovered that there is an explosion in email traffic taking place, every mail sent generates a trail of between four to six additional items popping up in your inbox.

The extensive use of email, particularly for internal transactions is being questioned by managers as a substitute for face-to-face or voice discussion, particularly as email is seen to prolong decision-making.

The study shows that, used effectively, email can help improve process and the sharing of information as well as support decision making, however if not used smartly it can create a faceless environment, reduce the ability of the individual to act and put an emphasis on protecting one’s own position.

In contrast, speaking on the phone was found to put a stop to the generation of further email traffic, often clarifying issues and speeding up decision making.

Plantronics have kindly provided some cut-out-and-keep top tips:


1. Don’t let your inbox manage you! Block out time during the day to tackle your email
2. Think about the best way to communicate, email should not be used for complex discussions – have a phone conversation and use email to confirm the points agreed and discussed
3. Turn off your auto alert – this can be really distracting
4. Don’t get in the habit of replying of email immediately, you may be setting a precedent that you can not maintain
5. Don’t copy the world on emails or your replies

For the sake of absolute clarity we feel we should point out that Plantronics, being in the telecommunications business, does have a vested interest in persuading people to communicate on the phone, but the independent survey results do speak for themselves. And who can’t honestly say they don’t get too many emails? Pick up the phone people!