Intermedia Survey on Email Habits of SMB Employees Reveals One in Five Feel Overloaded

50 Emails a Day is Manageable Says US Small Business Workers

A new survey by Intermedia, the world’s largest Microsoft hosted Exchange provider, found that 94 percent of respondents[1] feel that 50 or fewer emails is a manageable number to receive each day without feeling overwhelmed. The commissioned survey also found that more than one in five adults who receive work-related email already feel as though they get more each day than they can manage. With an increasing amount of communication being done via email, this insight into how small business employees manage work email can help improve productivity and workplace satisfaction.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Majority of small business workers don’t use smartphones: Slightly less than two in five adults who receive work-related email say they use a smartphone (38 percent).
  • Smartphone users get more email and are more stressed: 12 percent of Americans who do not use smartphones and receive work-related emails experience email overload, whereas 37 percent (or more than one in three) of Americans with smartphones who receive work related emails do.
  • Gender makes no difference: Men and women seem to be in agreement with what is a manageable amount of work-related emails to receive each day.  94 percent of men and 95 percent of women who receive work-related email say that 50 emails or less is a manageable number of work-related emails to receive each day.

“Email has perhaps become the most critical business communications tool,” says Jonathan McCormick, COO, Intermedia. “The productivity benefits of business-class email are immense, in terms of being able to share and store information, schedules and contact information with colleagues and across computers and mobile phones. But without the right tools and guidance, employees can be challenged to manage the flow. It’s vital for workers and organizations to develop the right mindsets and skills around managing email.”

Email overload can hurt productivity and lead to miscommunication and errors. Some activities employers and employees can take to combat feeling overwhelmed include:

  1. Unify Your Communications – Email is one element to unified communications (UC), an integrative approach to uniting all key communications services important to business operations and success, including voice, instant messaging and document sharing among other components. Email supplemented by a unified approach to communications gives you a complete view of communications across the business and among employees.  UC is guided by you and your business. For example, with instant messaging, a support team likes to have a group chat open throughout the day whereas a business owner may only want to use it at certain times during the day.
  2. You Determine the Priority, Not Your Inbox –Review email and ask yourself if the messages relate to your priorities for the next hour, day or week. This question can help you manage the number of emails you respond to each day, ultimately helping you feel less overwhelmed with your work email.
  3. Organization is Key – There are two approaches to email organization so choose the one that works best for you. The first system is to create folders for different work activities/projects in your email program and file away your incoming emails appropriately. For example, create a folder for “IT” or “Payroll” and file away all messages in your inbox into those folders. The second option is to read emails and respond/delete as they come in and, at the end of the day, file them into generic folders (e.g. Follow Up Required, Need to Respond, Completed).
  4. Read and Respond – Keep responses to emails concise by specifically addressing the questions asked in the emails that need answers. For incoming emails that can be answered quickly and easily, respond to those first before visiting the more time-intensive messages.

METHODOLOGY: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Intermedia from June 3-7, 2010 among 2,071 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact PR@intermedia.net


[1] Respondents are adults who receive work-related emails. For the purposes of this survey “online adults who receive work-related emails” are defined as full time/part time employed adults who work for a company with less than 250 employees and receive work-related emails. This survey was conducted online in June, 2010 by Harris Interactive on behalf of Intermedia.

About The Intermedia Team

Intermedia's Office in the Cloud™ delivers essential IT services for SMBs and the partners who serve them — including hosted Exchange, Hosted PBX, SecuriSync file sync and share, security, mobility and more.