What a scourge the email inbox is after a long holiday, unless you’ve spent a little time judiciously pruning it while ostensibly on ‘downtime’.
And now the British Psychological Society suggests that doing precisely this is not necessarily bad for our mental health. Research presented to the Society this week has blown up a few enduring email myths, which have been kicking about since carbon copies gave way to the CC box on the computer screen.
The report’s author, Dr Emma Russell, found that quality work relationships can thrive in an environment reliant on email provided there is already a culture of trust; she also discovered that regularly checking email enables workers to properly prioritise, helps them feel in control and that most work email is actually about … work. (Although perhaps my office poll on choice of dog breed stretches that point).
As a fanatical ‘opt outer’ I am delighted that she recommends turning off email alerts, which recognises that with our tech ever alongside us, the flashing alerts encourage people to delve in to work emails way outside normal working hours. But apparently even this is not necessarily bad, and Dr Russell found no-one looking for a ban on checking emails out-of-hours, but it does need guidance.
So hurrah to the end of ‘email-free days’ and other whizzy workplace wheezes to encourage bonding and joy. We are free to crunch through our inboxes and ping replies with impunity, and probably the main thing to remember is that emails – when traced back to source – are people too. And we should all be kind to each other.