Average Employee Spends Nearly 11 Hours a Week Drafting Emails

Serious man blue shirt laptop computer thinking business email

According to new research, the average employee spends 10 hours and 47 minutes a week drafting emails that few recipients read.

The survey of 8,000 small business employees (split evenly between Americans and Brits) asked respondents how much time they spend on emails: they draft an average of 112 emails a week, spending just over five and a half minutes on each.

Failure to Communicate

Small business employees surveyed believe their emails are only fully read and understood by their recipients a third (36%) of the time.

This might explain why respondents said that when their email is responded to, it’s common to have their questions not be answered (62%), to be addressed by the wrong name (51%), or to be asked a question they just answered (49%).

Respondents know they’re guilty of not reading emails, too: over half (57%) admitted that if an email is “too long” — eight or more sentences — they won’t bother reading the whole thing.

With that, small business employees delete — or otherwise don’t read — an email based solely on the subject line an average of eight times per day.

This is detrimental for employees: 45% have missed something (like a deadline, a meeting, etc.) because they didn’t read an important email.

Alternatives to Outdated Modes of Communication

Commissioned by Slack and conducted by OnePoll, the survey delved further into email and explored what alternatives small business employees would like to see for workplace communication.

Almost half (46%) of respondents said email is an “outdated form of communication.”

Some of their frustration comes from losing emails to the spam or junk folders (53%) or their inbox being clogged with emails that aren’t relevant to them (50%). Others said it’s easy to misconstrue tone over email (47%), and there’s an expectation of staying “formal” (45%).

When it comes to staying “formal,” younger generations were more likely to see that as an expectation and find it a challenge. Results found 57% of Gen Zers and 46% of millennials agreed, while only 37% of Gen X and 34% of baby boomers said the same.

There was also a direct correlation between age and feeling like emails are a waste of time. Younger respondents were more likely to say emails are not worth it (41% of Gen Z and 38% of millennials) compared to older generations (30% of Gen X and 22% of baby boomers).

“When we look at the data, we’re seeing that employees are spending almost 11 hours a week writing emails,” said Ali Rayl, SVP of Product Management, Slack. “Many of these emails aren’t even getting read, and when they are, research shows that they’re often skimmed too quickly and misunderstood.

“It’s an outdated, inefficient form of communication that isn’t keeping up with the way companies work today. Companies that adopt more efficient ways for their employees to communicate are freeing up time for more productive, meaningful work.”

A Lack of Productivity

Respondents believe their company relies on email because it’s inexpensive (55%) and it’s the way things have always been done (53%) — a third (34%) also said it’s because the small business they work for is unaware of other tools.

Over half (57%) feel bogged down at work because of menial tasks like sending emails — with most generations sharing that sentiment (59% of Gen Zers, 60% of millennials, and 52% of Gen X surveyed).

When asked which menial tasks make it harder to succeed in their role, respondents pinpointed the top three as filtering irrelevant emails (51%), responding to emails (47%), and finding internal information they need for my role (38%).

With email-related tasks coming out first and second, perhaps it isn’t surprising that 36% of small business employees said their productivity would be positively impacted if their company relied less on email.

The survey also found that 46% believe using email means their company is lagging behind with technology, and half (49%) would like their company to move from email to other forms of communication.

Interestingly, that’s not the only thing respondents would like to see from their company in order to increase their productivity.

The Case for Artificial Intelligence

Forty-two percent believe artificial intelligence (AI) tools will increase their productivity — while only 9% of respondents said it would negatively affect their productivity.

Receiving immediate answers was seen by respondents as the top appeal for AI (50%), followed by staying competitive with other companies (47%) and replacing manual and repetitive tasks (47%).

“The structure of work today is profoundly different from what jobs looked like in the past; we now have productivity platforms and job-specific tools at our fingertips to help us make the most of our time and talents,” said Rayl. “When we integrate our workplace — the way we communicate and the tools we use to get work done, which increasingly includes AI — we foster deeper connection, quicker communication, greater clarity through shared context, and overall, we waste less time.

“Information can’t fall through the cracks when there’s one single place where everyone in a company can go to find information.”

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Author: Michael Dinich

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Side Hustles, Passive Income, Investing

Bio:

Michael Dinich is a journalist, personal finance expert, and a true geek at heart. Michael founded Wealth of Geeks in 2017, and he's the executive producer of the Wealth of Geeks podcast. He's known for his relatable financial advice and passionate discussions about all things geek.