Slave to your inbox



For those that remember the frustrations of the fax machine, there is no denying how useful email is. However, a new report by data governance software company Varonis asks if some of us are becoming slaves to our inbox. Their report found that 43% of those questioned often felt so overwhelmed by the volume of mail they were receiving that they abandoned their inbox and went surfing instead - a virtual coffee break.

Apparently, 22% of us have 1,000 to 5,000 emails in our inboxes at any one time while 78% of us receive up to 100 emails per day. An unfortunate 25% receive 100-500 emails every day. Peoples’ approaches to this deluge vary. A minority clean and file on a daily basis while another minority group hoards everything. Most of us fall somewhere between the two extremes. The frightening part is that of all those surveyed, 40% spend 30 minutes or more every day managing their email. That is in addition to reading and responding to their messages and it equates to 120 hours every year. Put another way, for three weeks of the year, companies are paying their employees to manage their emails.

The sheer volume of messages means that mistakes are being made. Of the people surveyed, 62% reported an email mishap. For others, the consequences have been more serious.

David Gibson, VP of Strategy at Varonis, said: ‘Whether they are distracted by a host of different media or simply slaving away to deal with their inboxes, if employees can't regain control of the volumes of work they are bombarded with they are likely to make mistakes. Nearly two thirds of those we surveyed reported a mishap as a result of sending an email by mistake—1 in 20 even cited compliance issues as a result of a wrongly sent email.’

Naturally, Mr Gibson’s company offers automated services to help email users stay on top of their inbox. There are other means. A simple lesson in email etiquette would be a start. The basic rules are simple:

Before creating a new email, ask yourself if it is really necessary

Think twice before hitting the reply to all button

Make the subject matter clear in the subject line so that recipients know straight away if they need to open it. If they don’t why are you even sending it to them?

Ask yourself how happy you would be explaining to the MD why you sent everybody in the organisation that link to the dogs driving cars

Tighten up your spam filters

It’s not rocket science but if everyone in any given organisation implemented just three of the five rules then unnecessary email traffic would plunge.

You can download the full Varonis report from here.

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