Technology is accelerating email response times, creating unrealistic expectations, email overload, error and costly workplace stress. A survey of UK workers has found that 25% of us now expect an email response within an hour, with over a third expecting a response within two hours and over two thirds within half a day.
The survey, carried out by email management expert Dr Monica Seeley, questioned one hundred workers from a range of leading public and private sector organisations, finding that only a quarter of believe a response within one day is acceptable and only seven per cent of workers are prepared wait to up to two days for a reply.
The survey also highlighted the fact that expectations in regards to email responses are often hypocritical, with our own punctuality of sending email responses.
Seeley commented on the findings: “This is a worrying trend,” she said. “Emails often need a substantive response, data needs collecting, case law needs referencing and the faster we respond, the faster the other person will expect a reply.
“This survey highlights the need to reduce email overload and to make email reply expectations realistic with sufficient time for a considered response.”
Seeley believes that that much of the pressure for fast replies is in the mind of the recipient – stating that many senior managers are surprised by how quickly people respond to their emails.
The survey also found that 83% respondents felt that internal senders expect a quicker reply than external senders and 87% believed senior managers expected a faster response than junior managers.
Development Manager, Garth Ralston, who works for Aimia, a company that monitors large customer loyalty schemes said: “Most of us now have Blackberries or iPhones making it easy to interact ‘24×7’,” he says. “As a result, even if you don’t reply, the general presumption is that you will have read the message whatever time it was sent.”