May 17, 2013 - Rachel Miller

Employees check email round the clock

Accessing work-related emails is no longer just confined to the working day. According to a new report, small business employees are checking their work emails at all hours of day and night – even at social occasions that include weddings, school events and family get-togethers.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of GFI Software, polled 500 employees in small business workplaces across the UK. It found that technology has blurred the boundaries between home and work. Three quarters of respondents said they check their work email at the weekend, 44% check work email after 11pm and 54% keep on top of work email on holiday.

The report also found that email is used at the office more than any other form of communication:

  • 48.8% of respondents use email for work more than any other communications format
  • 25% still prefer face-to-face meetings
  • 23.6% prefer to pick up the phone

Email gets a quick response from the majority of respondents – with 75% saying they typically reply to emails within one hour during work hours and almost a third replying within 15 minutes.

However, the management of email has become a logistical challenge for many – the survey finds that 66% of respondents use specific folders to organise their email and a third archive their email.

"Email has had a fundamental impact on work/life balance for many employees, especially in smaller organisations where speed of response to orders and queries is critical in retaining competitive advantage against larger competition," said Phil Bousfield, general manager, IT operations at GFI Software.

He added: "The research results have affirmed how critical it is for organisations to manage the use of email effectively. The research also reveals that many users are putting their email at risk by using their inbox as a living database. This is both inefficient and puts the organisation at risk of substantial data loss."

Overwhelmingly, email is regarded positively, with 93% of respondents considering email to be a "blessing" and just 7% calling it a "curse". However, the smallest companies surveyed, with one to nine employees, were the least positive about email.