Email vacations could increase productivity, decrease stress

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This is probably not news to people who toil at their dreary 9-to-5 jobs: being cut off from work email significantly reduces stress and even contributes to an ability to focus better. The new study is based on collaborative work from UC Irvine and US Army researchers.

Heart rate monitors were attached to workers measuring their stress throughout the day. While their vitals were being recorded, software was monitoring their computer screens to record what they were doing when their heart rates were changing. People who read email changed screens twice as often and were in a constant “high alert” state physiologically. Those workers who were prohibited from checking their email had more natural heart rates. People without email reported feeling better and better able to do their jobs by staying on task. They felt they had fewer stressful and time-wasting interruptions.

“We found that when you remove email from workers’ lives, they multitask less and experience less stress,” said UCI informatics professor Gloria Mark.

Those with email access changed screens an average of 37 times per hour. Those without switch 18 times per hour.

This information could help boost productivity and suggested that prohibiting or limiting email access could have a positive effect on productivity. Other strategies like batch messaging might be helpful. If workers know the effect of their email on co-workers, perhaps they would send fewer emails or consolidate information. Pick up the phone or walk to a co-workers desk are other suggestions. “Email vacations on the job may be a good idea. We need to experiment with that,” she suggested – revealing that she has never worked in an office.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, UC-Irvine

 
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