The primary challenges people face with emails include the misinterpretation of tone and essential emails getting lost in “Spam” or “Junk” folders.
On average, employees spend eight hours and 42 minutes per week composing emails. However, research indicates that only 42 percent of these emails are likely to be read in full. A survey of 4,000 small business employees in the UK revealed that they draft an average of 99 emails every week, with each email taking just over five minutes to compose.
However, they believe that their emails are fully read and comprehended by the recipients less than half the time, at 42 percent.
Additionally, the study found that four in ten individuals avoid reading emails longer than eight sentences, considering them “too long.” Moreover, those surveyed delete or skip reading emails solely based on the subject line an average of six times per day, resulting in 31 percent missing important information.
The research, conducted for Slack, also highlighted that 27 percent of employees in UK small businesses consider email an “outdated” means of communication. Some of the frustration arises from the ease of misinterpreting tone (55 percent) or losing emails to “Spam” or “Junk” folders (48 percent). Others noted that their inboxes get cluttered with irrelevant emails (44 percent), and there’s an expectation to maintain a “formal” tone (35 percent).
Interestingly, younger generations are more likely to struggle with this formality, with 45 percent of Gen Z and 38 percent of millennials feeling this way, in contrast to 28 percent of Gen X and 22 percent of Baby Boomers. Younger respondents were also more inclined to view emails as not worthwhile, with 30 percent of Gen Z and 24 percent of millennials expressing this sentiment, compared to 17 percent of Gen X and 12 percent of Baby Boomers.
Email is the cockroach of the internet – it simply won’t dieDeirdre Byrne, head of Slack UK and Ireland
Deirdre Byrne, head of Slack UK and Ireland, commented on the study’s findings: “Email is the cockroach of the internet – it simply won’t die. Yet when it comes to business communication, the research reveals this 50-year-old tech isn’t fit for purpose. Employees at small businesses are losing a working day each week to drafting emails – which often go unread – at the expense of productive work.
It’s up to leaders to embrace technology that helps streamline communication and knowledge sharing, accelerates work with AI and automation, and which keeps everyone engaged and focused on more meaningful and impactful work. Email may never fully go away, but if we can get beyond the tyranny of the inbox, we can make a massive difference to work today.”
The study also revealed that not fully comprehending an email has left 68 percent of respondents feeling that their questions haven’t been answered, and 46 percent have had queries to which they’ve already responded. Additionally, almost half (46 percent) have been addressed by the wrong name at the beginning of an email. Furthermore, nearly six in ten (57 percent) believe their company relies on email because it’s a traditional approach, it’s cost-effective (57 percent), and it’s used widely (47 percent).
Around 40 percent of respondents admitted to feeling overwhelmed at work due to mundane tasks like sending emails, and this sentiment was most pronounced among Gen Z individuals (52 percent). Other challenges included filtering irrelevant emails (49 percent), responding to emails (35 percent), and locating internal information essential for their roles (23 percent), which all hindered their job performance.
As a result, 22 percent believe that their productivity would improve if their companies reduced their reliance on email. The research, conducted through OnePoll, indicated that 29 percent of respondents think AI tools would enhance their productivity, while only 10 percent believe AI would negatively affect their work. The most appealing aspects of AI were seen as the automation of manual and repetitive tasks (51 percent), receiving immediate answers (41 percent), and gaining more time to focus on other tasks (41 percent).
Ali Rayl, SVP Product Management at Slack, commented on these findings: “The structure of work today is profoundly different from what jobs looked like in the past.”
“We have access to productivity platforms and tools designed for specific job roles that enable us to optimize our time and skills. By seamlessly integrating our work environment, including communication methods and tools, which now often involve AI, we enhance interpersonal connections, expedite communication, enhance clarity through shared context, and ultimately reduce time wastage. With a centralized platform where all employees can access information, there is a reduced risk of information being lost or overlooked.”