Email bombardment makes staff rude and unproductive

Poor productivity and rudeness induced by tech interruptions at work...

Poor productivity and rudeness induced by tech interruptions at work...

Interruptions at work such as email and social networking cause rudeness and a lack of productivity

Interruptions at work caused by email and social networking can result in rudeness and a lack of productivity among staffPhoto: Shutterstock

If you find yourself surrounded by rude and unproductive colleagues, there is a good chance technology is to blame.

Interruptions at work are making employees ruder and less productive, according to research that found 60 per cent of work distractions involved technology.

Email, social networks, text messaging and IM were all found guilty of disrupting the concentration of employees.

Nearly half of workers surveyed, some 45 per cent, said they can only work for 15 minutes or less without being interrupted and 53 per cent said they waste at least one hour a day due to distractions.

Interruptions are also making the workforce ruder, according to the research, as two out of three workers said they would disrupt a group meeting to communicate with someone else digitally.

Email was the main threat to politeness with just under half, 48 per cent, of workers interrupting a group meeting to send an email. Over a third, 35 per cent, said they would interrupt a meeting to answer a mobile phone and 12 per cent would update their status on a social network.

Most workers, 85 per cent, said they would only turn their mobile phone off if directly asked to by their boss and just under two-thirds, 63 per cent, said they would only turn their phones off during one-on-one meetings.

But an impolite workforce could be the least of employers' worries, according to the survey. Digital distractions could have a negative impact on the quantity and quality of work output, and even on client relationships.

A third of employees said interruptions make it harder for them to produce work and a quarter said interruptions mean there is no time for "creative or deep thinking".

Interruptions also caused 10 per cent of employees to miss deadlines and five per cent attributed the loss of clients or business to interruptions.

The research, commissioned by email software provider harmon.ie, reported that the average annual cost of wasted productivity caused by digital interruptions was £3,277.50 per employee.

Yaacov Cohen, co-founder and CEO of harmon.ie, said in a statement that the level of distraction caused by technology was ironic.

"Information technology that was designed, at least in part, to save time is actually doing precisely the opposite," Cohen said.

"We're clearly seeing what psychologists call 'online compulsive disorder' spill over from our personal lives to the work environment," he added.