Business loses a day a week to e-mail

New research says that business owners worldwide spend up to 10 hours a day dealing with spam and legitimate e-mail each week.

The average business owner spends an hour and a half each day processing e-mail, according to new research--and that figure is set to increase.

Business owners from the Philippines, Hong Kong, India and the United States are the most prolific e-mailers, spending two hours or more on average dealing with spam and legitimate e-mail alike, while their Russian and Greek counterparts spend just 48 minutes a day sorting out their e-mail, a report from Grant Thornton says.

The UK spends less time than the global average processing e-mail, the report found, at just one hours and twelve minutes a day.

Wendy Hart, head of new technologies at Grant Thornton, said that those countries that spend the most time processing e-mail tend to be either those who don't have the traditional communications infrastructure in place, such as the Philippines or India, or high tech countries which are adept at using IT in business, such as the United States.

However, not all Western economies are devoting long periods to e-mail--both France and Japan spend only slightly more time dealing with it than Russia, where e-mail access penetration is only at 15 percent.

Both countries also have a tendency towards preferring face-to-face communication for business. "There's a certain acceptance you do some things on e-mail and you don't do others. It's taken further in countries like Japan or France," she said.

Hart added that the real amount of time spent wading through e-mail could be far larger than the figures show.

"For many business owners, a lot of e-mail is being dealt with by admin staff or by PAs," she said. "They're not sending out documents, receiving documents, in the same way professionals would."

And the amount of time business owners devote to their e-mail looks set to rise across the globe as Internet connectivity becomes more widespread. For those countries at the top of the e-mail league the two-hour mark is likely to become the maximum time a business owner will devote to reading e-mail, Hart believes.

However, the rumors of the death of e-mail look to have been greatly exaggerated.

"People won't shift away from e-mail completely, it's too easy and it's too efficient," Hart said. "I can't see people chucking their PC through the window just yet."