Reducing the effect of email interuption on employees

It is generally assumed that because it is not necessary to react to email messages when they arrive, employees will read their messages in their own time with minimum interruption to their work. This research has shown that email messages do have some disruptive effect by interrupting the user. Employees at the Danwood Group in the UK were monitored to see how they used email. It was found that most employees had their email software check for incoming messages every 5 minutes and responded to the arrival of a message within 6 seconds. A recovery time between finishing reading the email and returning to normal work also existed though it was shorter than published recovery times for a telephone interrupt. This analysis has suggested that a number of methods can be employed to reduce this interrupt effect. Employee training, changing the settings and modes of using the email software and the introduction of a one line email facility are all shown to have beneficial effects. This has led to a series of recommendations that will enable the Danwood Group to make better use of email communication and increase employee effectiveness.