European managers spend at least two hours a day dealing with email, equating to 10 years of an average worker's life, according to independent research commissioned by Plantronics.
Since 32 per cent of messages read and sent are considered irrelevant, managers will spend three and a half years dealing with irrelevant email over their working life.
The results are from a survey on workplace communications of over 180 senior managers conducted by the Henley Management College.
Every mail sent generates a trail of between four to six responses. In contrast, speaking on the phone puts a stop to further email traffic, often clarifying issues and speeding up decision making.
Some 43 per cent of respondents felt that only one in 10 emails clearly conveyed the intended message, and that the rest simply creates more inbox debris to clear.
The survey also suggested that time wasted on email has social implications as workers interact less with each other. While speaking on the phone was found to build relationships, the use of email had the opposite effect.
Peter Thomson, director of the Future Work Forum at Henley Management College, said: "Our research proves that email use is out of control, often causing confusion and inertia.
"It also paints a bleak picture of silent offices where colleagues email rather than talk face to face."
The report offers five top tips on managing email:
Don't let your inbox manage you. Block out time during the day to tackle your email.
Think about the best way to communicate. Email should not be used for complex discussions. Have a phone conversation and use email to confirm the points agreed and discussed.
Turn off your auto alert. This can be really distracting.
Don't reply to email immediately. You may be setting a precedent that you cannot maintain
Don't copy the world on emails or replies. Be careful to whom you send emails.
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