Thursday, July 19th, 2012

THE REALITY OF EMAIL IN BUSINESS TODAY

How is email communication practised cross-continent and what impact does it have on employees? Excerpt from the @Work State of Mind Project – a joint effort of gyro, award-winning global b2b agency, and Forbes Insights. To download the complete report go to www.gyro.com/atwork.

Car manufacturer Volkswagen recently prevented some 1,100 non-management employees from sending or receiving emails between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m on their company-issued BlackBerrys and other smartphones. The move responded to employee complaints about workdays extended by having to respond to messages at any time.

But Volkswagen limited this ruling—effectively reinstituting evenings off—to non-management employees only, and only to its German workers. Management types don’t fall under this rule, as it was negotiated by a trade union. That non-management employees were upset about having to monitor email after work hours should not come as a surprise, as attitudes about email depend on a given employee’s rank.

The Forbes Insights survey confirms this thesis. Analyzing the responses of two groups—those who feel in control, who are driven to participate in the @Work State of Mind by their own ambition; and the Not-In-Control group, who are driven by company expectations, such as the Volkswagen employees who won email free time—differences in attitudes become clear. For example, even though 35% of respondents reported feeling productive, only 22% of the not-in-control set felt productive.

The composition of the groups varies by title, responsibilities and company size. The higher up the ladder they are, the happier the @Work State of Mind makes executives. While 37% of the executives surveyed were C-level, just 24% felt a lack of control. This ratio is reversed for executives with titles below C-level. While 64% of executives surveyed had titles below C-level, 77% of below C-level executives felt a lack of control.

In fact, while those who feel in control are distributed pretty evenly across the range of company sizes, the percentage of those who feel a lack of control over their work flow increases fairly steadily with company size.

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