Email deluge leaves little time for “real work”

By David Gibson

In fact, 43% of those surveyed routinely abandon their inboxes altogether in favour of a virtual coffee break. The study, questioning employees about their digital habits and vices, found that nearly a quarter receive between 100 to 1,000 emails and one in ten workers now faces more than 10,000 emails in their inbox.

In their struggle to stay on top of this email deluge, the study has revealed three different approaches: 34% of those questioned are ‘filers’, clearing their inbox on a daily basis and filing messages into folders. On the opposite end of the spectrum, hoarders—who never delete messages—make up 17% of the workforce. The majority of respondents, at 44%, appear to practice a hybrid of both practices to stay on top of their mailboxes. Of all those surveyed, 40% spend 30 minutes or more every day managing their email, in addition to reading and responding, equating to 120 hours every year.

However, a small but telling niche of 6% admitted to completely giving up on maintaining control over their email. We see a growing trend of people struggling and in some cases even giving up on – or deleting – their entire inboxes. It also appears that over-stretched employees are seeking more ways to clear their heads by taking virtual coffee breaks to browse the web or social networks.

In fact, the research found that 43% of respondents switched off by scanning the web for news, followed by 28% who listened to music while working. Surprisingly, C-level employees and managers were more likely to take refuge with social media than employees, with over a quarter of management taking to twitter and nearly a third to Facebook. In comparison, just 1 in 10 employees uses Facebook, with even fewer workers tweeting at work.

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. The only way to throw workers a life belt is by utilising automation to help them organise, manage and prioritise their email in a way that gives them visibility over what is important, when and to whom.

To download the full digital habits research report, visit

About the author and Varonis

David Gibson is VP of Strategy at Varonis, a leader in unstructured and semi-structured data governance software. Based on patented technology and a highly accurate analytics engine, Varonis solutions give organizations total visibility and control over their data, ensuring that only the right users have access to the right data at all times from all devices, all use is monitored, and abuse is flagged. Voted one of the "Fast 50 Reader Favorites" on, and winner of the SC Magazine Innovation, Product or Service of the Year, and Best Network Security Awards, Varonis has more than 4,500 installations worldwide and is headquartered in New York, with regional offices in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s