By Julie Goh

  • Are you drowning in a sea of emails?
  • Do you have someone in your office who likes using emails for chatting?
  • Do you have difficulty concentrating on your work because your email notification keeps popping up?
  • Do you find yourself constantly checking your inbox for the latest message because your boss/manager will be unhappy if you don’t instantly reply to their emails?
  • Are you expected to check your emails even when you are not working?

While emails have revolutionised workplace communication, they can also be a source of stress, distraction, and decreased productivity. Let's explore the good, the bad, and the ugly of emails and their effects on the workplace….and you.

The Good

Emails provide a quick and efficient way to communicate, allowing employees to get in touch with each other and clients from anywhere in the world. They can help employees stay organised, providing a searchable archive of important messages and attachments. Emails can also help track progress, acting as a record of communication and task assignments.

The Bad

While emails can be useful, they can also be a source of distraction and stress. The constant influx of messages can lead to inbox overload, making it difficult for employees to prioritise and manage their workload. This can result in increased stress levels, decreased productivity, and a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Additionally, emails can be misinterpreted (more so when one’s command of the language is inferior), leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. The lack of tone and body language in written communication can make it challenging to convey the intended message accurately, leading to confusion and frustration.

The Ugly

Excessive email usage can have a significant impact on employee engagement and job satisfaction. Employees who receive an overwhelming amount of emails or are copied on emails that are not relevant to their work can feel undervalued and disconnected from their colleagues (and frustrated). This can lead to decreased motivation and engagement, as well as a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Moreover, the expectation of being available 24/7 can lead to burnout and decreased job satisfaction, especially when employees receive emails at all hours of the day and night. The constant pressure to respond to emails quickly can also make it difficult to disconnect and recharge, leading to reduced well-being both in and outside of the workplace.

Finding a Balance

So, what can be done to mitigate the negative effects of excessive email usage? Firstly, it's essential to establish clear guidelines and expectations around email usage, including response times and when email is an appropriate form of communication. It's also important to encourage face-to-face communication when possible, as this can help build relationships and prevent miscommunications. Having to spend half the day just checking and replying emails is definitely not productive, especially when your replies generates even more incoming emails!

Lastly, it's important to find a balance between the benefits of email and its potential drawbacks. This might involve setting boundaries around email usage, prioritising tasks, and minimising distractions to improve productivity and employee engagement.

We cannot deny that emails can be a powerful tool for communication and organisation, but they can also have negative effects on productivity and engagement. By finding a balance between the benefits of email and its potential drawbacks, employers can create a healthy and productive work environment.

Do you have an email guideline in your company? If you had answered YES to the questions at the start of this article, perhaps, it is time to sit down with your management and come to an agreement on their expectations when it comes to email communication.