A new message from a colleague at the office arrives in your inbox. The Subject line indicates “Urgent”, so you open it quickly, and respond in a few seconds, answering his question. You surely repeat this kind of action a few times over the course of your day, whether to chat with co-workers at the office, or with suppliers and clients. And this is not the only virtual mailbox that you check during the day. In your personal account you also receive promotional offers, confirmations of activity bookings, and data tracking your online purchases.
In recent years email has become an essential communication tool in both the personal and professional spheres. Now, how much time do we spend daily checking our emails? Do we send them at any time, or do we have a fixed schedule?
Adobe has just published a study on email use by 1,000 white-collar workers in the United States. One of the conclusions is that employees spend a great deal of time checking email: 5.4 hours on weekdays.
The preferred corporate communication channel
The data is surprising, but it actually seems that workers are improving their habits: those 5.4 hours of email use per day are 27% less time than that invested in 2016, according to the previous email usage study carried out by Adobe. Despite this decline, which shows that the use of email is in greater balance with other aspects of life, 73% of respondents acknowledge that they check their mail more often than they should.
However, there is one kind of account that is used more than another: while professional email is used 3.3 hours a day (20% less than the previous year), respondents say they use personal email for 2.1 hours (a 36% drop). Not surprisingly, according to the study by Adobe, email is workers’ favourite tool at companies: 52% of the participants over age 25 in the study indicate that it is their main corporate communication channel.
Clicking on an email and reading through it is a more frequent action if the message is related to work matters. The participants in the study reported opening 82% of their corporate emails, but only 60% of their personal ones. Of those they open, they read 83% of those related to work, and 64% from family and friends.
The appearance of smartphones, tablets and smartwatches has meant, logically, that computers are no longer the only devices used to send and receive emails. In fact, the smartphone is the device most frequently used to check emails, especially among those under 35 years of age.
Despite this, the truth is that we prefer to answer work messages using a keyboard and looking at a larger screen: 62% of respondents in the Adobe study say that a desktop or laptop is their main device to view their email.
Young people, the most active group
In addition to using email several hours a day, many of these workers use it during working hours. Despite this, 37% of respondents say they check it while preparing to go to the office, or having breakfast, and 26% report out that they even check their inbox in bed, although that percentage is lower than the previous year. In this regard there are differences depending upon age: the youngest respondents are those who open the most emails while in bed.
Participants in the study ages 18-34 were more likely than those of other age groups to check email in all kinds of situations: watching TV, walking or even in the bathroom. And the youngest users were those who are most on top of their email: 66% claim to leave their inbox totally clean; that is, answering, delete or filing away all emails, to prevent them from adding up.
Looking at ail while on holiday is also a common practice, although only 17% confess to checking it frequently while on vacation. 32% say they look at it occasionally, and almost a quarter say they forget about professional messages during their time off.
Besides using email very often for personal or professional issues, this tool is also the favourite of consumers for business communications. 61% of respondents prefer to receive offers by email rather than by other means (like SMS or via the social networks), and they prefer that the content of the emails be less promotional and more informative.
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The report on the use of email that Adobe has presented makes it clear that email continues to be an essential communication tool, especially at work: throughout the day, we check it on multiple occasions and spend a lot of time sending and receiving messages using it.
Moreover, users themselves believe that we will continue using email for professional purposes in the future: 57% of respondents believe that we will continue to check it as we have thus far for the next two years, and 20% believe that its use will increase.
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