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Obsessively checking emails is damaging UK’s productivity, professor claims, and emails sent to people in the same building should be banned

Published 08/05/2015

Employees’ health is suffering as well as companies’ performance, former government adviser warns
Employees’ health is suffering as well as companies’ performance, former government adviser warns

An “epidemic” of email checking is damaging staff’s health and productivity, and could be the reason employees are behind their counterparts in other countries, a professor and former government adviser has warned.

Sir Cary Cooper told the BBC that “people working at night, weekends and holiday on emails” is hurting their health and that of the country.

Companies should also ban email within the same building, he said, with businesses instead moving to encourage employees to have face-to-face meetings or speak on the phone.

Sir Cary has previously been reported to have said that companies’ email servers should be shut down when people are at work. But he told the BBC that taking such a step was “pretty extreme” but was “an option” if checking email was causing a problem in businesses.

Instead, he said, flashing warnings to employees to tell them to stop working and instead relax would probably work better. “"They could get a message back, for example, saying, 'You have accessed 27 messages today,' alerting them to what they are doing,” Sir Cary told the BBC.

Some companies have launched special work-focused social networks and communication apps, but those are much the same and cause many of the same problems, the professor said.

Sir Cary is a professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University. He has advised the Government Office for Science about mental health in the workplace in the past.

The UK’s productivity is the second lowest in the G7, according to the Office for National Statistics, and is only ahead of Japan. But while Sir Cary recognised that email wasn’t the only thing holding the UK back, the “macho culture” of British offices that leads people to obsessively check emails could be.

Relentlessly checking emails damages the mental wellbeing of employees, and in doing so slows them down, he said.

Source: Independent

Independent News Service

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