In spite of the rise in instant messaging services in the workplace, professional email use is still on the rise.
German employees receive an average of 18 emails every day. That’s an increase of seven emails per day in the past three years, according to a study by tech industry trade group Bitkom.
One in ten employees gets 40+ emails every day
At least 10% of German employees receive at least 40 emails every day, up from only 6% in 2011. Meanwhile, the number of professionals that work without emails has fallen from 33% to 17%.
German employees are traditionally fond of a strict division between worktime and Feierabend, the time when the work ends and leisure time begins. Nevertheless, the rise in email use reflects the increased use of smartphone to answer work emails when off duty.
Only a third of employees see emails as a nuisance, and over half of participants told Bitkom they answer work emails while on holiday.
With more and more work being carried out via smartphones, mobile email access has begun to blur the boundaries between work and private life.
Work emails at home
Numerous German firms Telekom, Daimler and Eon have endeavoured to reduce after-hour work emails. According to the internal policy of German car manufacturer Volkswagen, employees must stop receiving emails half an hour after the employee’s shift.
The French government has taken it a step further and introduced rules to counteract the trend of answering work emails from home. As of April this year, employees in France’s tech sector are being urged to resist the temptation to look at emails, while employers are forbidden from requesting after-hours responses from their staff.
SEE ALSO: Overtime in Berlin
With Berlin employees working 44 million hours of overtime every year, startup employees in the German capital would certainly benefit from formal guidelines on work-related email usage at home.
Five quick email productivity tips
#1 Write short emails
Sometimes it pays to add the “Hope you’re well…” formalities at the start of an email. But the rest of the time, any employee that’s receiving 18+ emails a day (and trying to get other work done at the same time) will appreciate and email that comes straight to the point. Keep it short and you’ll save time for yourself and the people you’re writing to.
#2 Write less emails
The more emails you write, the more emails you get (obvs). Before you begin to write an email, consider what you’re looking for, and if an email is the best way to get it.
If the alternative is walking next door to the marketing department, take the chance to leave your desk. You’ll save time, establish more real connections and maybe even burn a few calories.
#3 Use bold
If you’re afraid someone is going to skim your email, make sure they at least read the keywords. By bolding 1-3 words, you’ll not only increase your chances of getting an answer, but that person will associate you as someone who works efficiently.
#4 Reply immediately
If an email takes less than two minutes to answer, then do it. According to David Allen’s Getting-Things-Done rule, you should only postpone the emails for which you need to devote serious time and effort.
Once you start leaving short emails unanswered, it won’t be long before your inbox is cluttered with hundreds of unread and answered messages.
#5 Check your email in blocks, not constantly
Rather than sporadically answering emails, dedicate time to writing several emails at once. You’ll not only be more efficient at writing, but you’ll save yourself from constant distractions while you work.
Feature image: Business woman using computer in the office. via Shutterstock / copyright: KieferPix