SPEW :: the email hour

So, while the trajectory of this post may take me perilously close to getting dooced, I would like to open up the comments to the subject of personal email and the workplace: does a worker who has zero access to personal email represent a more efficient worker then the counterpart who has full access and uses it responsibly?

Back when I had full email access, I checked it about a 6 or 7 times a day, spending on average about 7 to 8 minutes or more each time. This represents about a solid hour or more or time spent not working, but fucking off in email. For the purposes of this post, I will refer to this as the Email Hour. (I wont take too deep a cut into my critique of the workplace smokers, who as you may know, also take about a half-dozen 10 minute breaks during the course of their day, which I will not refer to as the Sarcoma Hour.)

Either way, the personal email or the smoker can be seen to ‘take’ up to 10% of their employers time as their own.

On some of the busiest days, I wouldn’t check it at all for fear of losing either my train of thought or having to read a personal email for which a response was required (plausible email deniability). Similarly, even on the most famine of days, I would still only spend my typical email hour reading and responding to personal emails. This is an example of the respect I had for the productivity that was expected of me.

My defense of the privilege of being able to access personal email in the workplace is simply to yield a more satisfied worker, connected to his or her outside life via these innocuous breaks throughout the day. Given my flexible schedule, even on the most compressed of workdays, I feel I still put in 8 hours of work in addition to my email hour.

In return for this persistence of connectivity to my personal life, the company received more focused, more satisfactory work from me as an employee. I know it sounds vague, but I liken it to working without windows to the outside world. A worker who has a window onto the outside world, due to the stimulation received from their view, represents a more efficient worker than the guy stuck in a vanilla cube.

In addition to personal email of a recreational nature, I also relied on the same email access to stay on top of my design business, edgehill productions. I receive on average 3-4 design-related emails a week from my clients, which I am able to answer fairly quickly during the workday as I have access to tools, internet/information and a heightened state of awareness.

With the new restrictions put in place by my company, I must resort to fielding all of these emails – both recreational as well as personal business related – during my time at home, either at night or in the mornings. I must also attempt in the evenings to field any & all of the emails (requests, inquiries, etc) I get on the email forum I monitor.

And here is where the fulcrum upon which my displeasure rests.

On weekdays, I have – at most – 2 hours in the evening and 2 hours in the morning with my son. After he goes to sleep at night marks the onset of the – again, at most – 2 hours in the evening I have to spend with my wife. In order to stay abreast of all the emails I have to read – let alone those to which a response is needed – requires that I take that same workplace hour and apply it to my homelife. Rather then spreading the time out across a few multi-minute segments throughout the course of the day, it all comes in a lump-sum at night.

To be fair, there is a portion of my conscience that clearly states that by definition, personal email ought to be dealt with on personal time. But I must temper that with how I still worked a full day/week, and how strongly I feel about how a more satisfied worker is a more productive worker. I fully understand and respect the reasoning behind the companies decision to implement these security measures. I accepts that the measures were put in place less to regain any perceived loss of productivity but more so to prevent the introduction of costly and destructive email-bourne virus and Trojans.

How much time do YOU spend on personal email during the course of your workday?
Do you have an example of where a worker clearly abused either the Email Hour or the Sarcoma Hour?
Would you accept a 10% reduction in salary to compensate for an Email Hour each day?


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