Targeting waste not jobs: uncovering the cost of email wastage

Ben Silverstone

Arden University Ltd, Midland Management Centre, 1A Brandon Lane, Coventry, CV3 3RD;

23rd March 2016


Despite assertions that email is cheap, fast and effective, there is significant evidence to suggest that excessive loads and inappropriate usage are increasing the cost of email usage. Cost is increased through the time that users waste when using email systems.

By studying the Welsh Further Education Sector this paper seeks to identify the extent to which wastage has become an issue. The levels of wastage are quantified as a percentage of user time and the causes and effects of this wastage are explored in greater detail.

Data was gathered via a large scale survey distributed to Further Education Colleges across wales from which a total of 1010 complete responses were received. Wastage in email usage was discovered to be widespread with middle management grade staff more likely to perceive that they waste time. Similarly, non-academic grade staff felt that they wasted the greatest proportion of their time. Overall, 18.69% of the 64.53 minutes spent by email users on average per day is wasted. Work related emails that are not relevant or have been duplicated are the reasons most cited for wastage.

This paper identifies causes of email wastage. The extent to which wastage occurs has been quantified having not been measured previously in literature. Therefore this study represents a step forward in our understanding email wastage.