With advances in technology, constant communication has never been easier. But that’s not necessarily a good thing, according to Sir Cary Cooper.
Cooper told the BBC that a compulsion to deal with messages immediately has caused employees in the U.K. to become less productive than many of the country’s international counterparts.
“For people to be working at night, weekends and holiday on emails is not good for the health of our country,” said Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology and health at Lancaster University.
I couldn’t agree more. While it’s great to be productive, it’s important to take personal time as well. Constantly thinking about work and being plugged in can be exhausting. Employees might simply be physically tired, or they could be mentally less engaged than those who take personal time away from that company communication. Naturally, being tired and less engaged leads to a dip in productivity.
Additionally, building relationships outside of work is important for personal growth and for building a sense of self outside of the office. Careers are a huge part of our lives, but they shouldn’t take up every hour.
But how can a large influx of emails be reduced?
Cooper thinks a limit on internal emailing would be helpful. Emails sent and received within the same building can be excessive. Rather, he advocates for face-to-face meetings and conversations over the phone.
Another solution is to have warnings for employees who seem to be emailing after hours. “They could get a message back, for example, saying, ‘You have accessed 27 messages today,’ alerting them to what they are doing,” Cooper said.
But emails aren’t the only things to blame for low rates of productivity.
The professor addresses that a “macho culture” is also to blame. Workers are hoping to seem available at all times, which “was causing stress and depression, and in turn making workers less efficient,” according to BBC.
“Every organization has to come to a conclusion as to what is a good way to be operating, and the best way to do that is by asking the employees themselves how do we stop this epidemic of us being linked all the time to our emails.”
If productivity seems low, look to work being done after hours. Are employees spending time with friends and family, or are they working? If it’s the latter, address the volume of internal emails, and encourage employees to take time to relax after hours.