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Ping, read, reply, repeat: How to break bad email habits at work

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Work email can be addictive – here’s how to break the habit (Image: Getty Images)

It’s an impressive feat that email works managed reigns supreme as the most popular and preferred communication tool in today’s digital work world, despite the emergence of supposedly more functional alternatives like Slack , Yammer and MS Teams.

However, it may not be through active choice that email continues to dominate our working lives.

A lot of academic research Yes see that there is a certain addictive habit component to our use of work email that can be difficult for us to change.

At a time when there is a lot of concern about Work culture is always towards and ours right to disconnectEmail is the missing thing in the working life of many people.

Our research

We were approached by an international charity based in the UK who were concerned about a recent employee survey that showed that email was causing many of their employees to feel stressed.

Despite significant investments in alternatives to try to limit over-reliance on work email, many employees still abuse it – for example, by texting a colleague sitting nearby, using Use it for general chat or outside of business hours.

We were asked to design a long-term intervention that could help employees change their work email habits to improve their health and productivity. We develop a model that uses existing research on changing people’s habits and how email is used at work.

A key aspect of the model is that unlike health habits such as smoking, work habits are rarely good or bad, but depend on the worker’s role and working context.

We believe that a work habit should be defined only as good or bad in relation to whether it helps or hinders someone from accomplishing their tasks and goals, and how it affects their well-being. how.

(Image: Getty Images)

For example, for someone in a customer service role, responding immediately to email notifications can be a good habit as they achieve a customer-centric goal of being responsive and helpful. But for a scientist or a writer, the same habit can be detrimental as it can distract them from complex work in the long run.

We ran our model for a year with 127 employees at the charity. These workers responded to an open call to participate in the study and were randomly assigned to an intervention group or a control group of approximately equal size. For all participants, we measured their email habits and work goals before, during, and after the program.

We provided all workers on the intervention group with work email tips over a period of about nine months, disseminating these tips on a regular basis.

Tips include a recommendation to turn off work email notifications, especially when doing something that requires a lot of concentration, and to only check their inbox manually every 30-40 minutes.

(Image: Getty Images / fStop)

Once each participant received a tip, they had to confirm with us whether or not they would take the suggestion.

This means they are given control over whether it is right for them and the work they do. Workers in the control group did not receive any tips.

Our results show that workers who receive tips and commit to using them explicitly are more likely to change their email behavior. People who change their habits have an improved sense of well-being and an increased ability to achieve their work goals.

The participants who benefited the most were those with the highest levels of self-efficacy (belief in their ability to take control of their work and achieve desired results).

In other words, only when people believe they can change can they truly succeed and reap the benefits.

Main message

Our research shows the importance of initiatives to change employees’ habits to match their personal preferences so that they have control over what they change.

Therefore, to improve employees’ email habits, organizations should put in place plans to help them decide which habits might need to change, and let individuals decide on what needs to be done. in the context of their role.

Along with this, organizations should provide Effectively train yourself arrive for employee resources and confidence to change their habits.

That will maximize the chances of success, helping as many people as possible kick that dysfunctional email habit and develop better, more productive ways of doing things.

By Emma Russell, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Psychology, Management, University of Sussex; Kevin Daniels, professor of organizational behavior, University of East Anglia; Marc Fullman, researcher in organizational behavior, University of Sussex; and Tom Jackson, professor of information and knowledge management, associate dean for research, director of the center for information management, Loughborough University

Click here to read the original article on The Conversation

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https://metro.co.uk/2021/12/09/ping-read-reply-repeat-how-to-break-bad-email-habits-at-work-15739122/ Ping, read, reply, repeat: How to break bad email habits at work

Tom Vazquez

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