‘You’ve Got Mail!’: The 4 Changes You Can Make to Tame Your Work Inbox
Managing work emails presents a never-ending task for many of us in the workforce; organisational psychology studies present clear scientific evidence that feeling inundated with emails has a significant negative effect on both employee wellbeing and output¹. With email being the primary form of communication in most offices, minimising stress without compromising on productivity is essential.
A recent study analysed an impressive 25 years of research into workplace communication and emails². After analysing the results of 62 individual studies, these experts determined 4 ‘superactions’ – (steps you can take yourself and implement in your office), that are proven to improve both wellbeing and work performance outcomes.
Here, we summarise these superactions, and explain how you might introduce good email practice into your workplace.
Communicating and adhering to boundaries for work email access: Set boundaries to give colleagues clear expectations regarding your availability. This might look like an out of office reply that emphasises your work hours or using the ‘delay send’ function to respect others’ working times.
Regularly triaging your inbox: Studies have found that setting aside small chunks of time throughout the day to prioritise emails is more successful than pausing your task every time you receive an email to check it. An example of this might be setting aside 20 minutes every few hours to sort, delete and prioritise emails.
Only using email for communications relevant to work: if your message does not pertain to a relevant work matter, communicate via another avenue. This reduces the number of emails you and your colleagues have to sort through.
Being considerate in your email use towards others: Research shows that the stress caused by work email is significantly reduced when emails received are perceived as polite and concise, with clear and actionable points.
Dr Emma Russell, the lead author of the study, said; “Statista predicts that an estimated 4.6 billion people will be using email by 2025. However, people have been subjected to almost 25 years of often contradictory advice about how to manage emails at work. We hope that this will help people to make use of the email strategies that are most likely to work, whilst also enabling employers to foster healthier and more efficient email cultures.”³.