Answer: 28%. The average person with a desk job spends just under a third of their workweek cleaning up their inbox
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Seven years ago the consulting firm, McKinsey, made a bold claim. In 2012 they stated that workplace communications technologies have the potential to increase employee productivity by up to 25 percent. As a quick aside, a broad definition of the term “workplace communications technologies” is “a tool that facilitates workplace communication. Some of these include email, blogs, instant messaging and even social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.” One of the more popular instant messaging platforms is Slack, an American cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services with the motto: where work happens.
McKinsey forecasted that applications like Slack could help workers be more efficient during the day helping to tackle time-wasting tasks like managing email. To that point, they said that “the average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing email and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks.” The whole point of the next generation of workplace communications technologies was to potentially replace email or at least a lot of the efforts that come with it, with more efficient ways to talk to one another. That happened, but there were some by-products.
Rather than email dying and being replaced by another form of technology, the method hung around. With the rise of platforms such as Slack, now some workers not only have to manage their inbox, they also have to scroll through threads and channels on WhatsApp and Slack. As Vox pointed out, “on average, employees at large companies are each sending more than 200 Slack messages per week. Keeping up with these conversations can seem like a full-time job. After a while, the software goes from helping you work to making it impossible to get work done.” At the end of the day, that’s not good for productivity, yet there are a few things that can be done. Sometimes it helps to simply put your cell phone on do not disturb for a little while. The same can be said about email. If you really need to focus, think about closing out of Outlook for a couple of hours. Workers can also try designating times during the day where they handle emails. If you block it off on your calendar, you can think of it as a task that can be checked off, rather than a slow bleeding process that you have to manage throughout the day. Ultimately it’s up to each individual worker to decide what works best for him or her, but limiting the notifications can certainly help.
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