New Sussex study reveals four ‘super’ actions for keeping on top of work-email
By: Tom Walters
Last updated: Monday, 4 September 2023
- New study reviews 25 years of academic research on work-email.
- Researchers have developed a robust framework for understanding how best to utilise email.
- Researchers identify four 'super' actions that can improve both well-being and productivity.
From inbox zero to turning off notifications, there is a lot of advice about how to manage emails at work.
Now, a new study conducted by academics from the University of Sussex Business School, Loughborough University and ESCP Business School, Madrid, has analysed 25 years of academic research to identify the four actions you should take to improve both well-being and productivity, while staying on top of your emails.
Published today in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, the researchers studied the findings from 62 empirical papers, using action regulation theory – essentially how we regulate our behaviour in the pursuit of different goals – to develop a framework that offers practical recommendations to both organisations and individuals.
From this, researchers identified four super actions:
1. Communicate work-email access boundaries: clearly state when you are not available to deal with email, stick to this, and don’t email others when they are not working.
2. Regularly check and review your inbox: delete, sort and reprioritise.
3. Only use work-email to send work-relevant communications.
4. Be civil, courteous and considerate in work-email exchanges.
“Statista predicting that an estimated 4.6 billion people will be using email by 2025. However, people have been subjected to almost 25 years of often contradictory advice about how to manage emails at work.
“Our new research, based on a comprehensive analysis of 25 years of email research, shows that strategies to stay on top of work-email don’t have to come at the expense of your well-being.
“The evidence shows that these four ‘super’ actions both reduce stress and improve productivity.
“We hope that this will help people to make use of the email strategies that are most likely to work, whilst also enabling employers to foster healthier and more efficient email cultures.”