Against the threat of email abuse looming against companies, ROK Solution, a powerful diagnosis tool, campaigns to raise managers’ awareness on the zero e-mail goal.
Even though not so long ago, emails were perceived as proof of an employee’s involvement, they ended up being a time, concentration and resource-hungry process. Email management is an undeniable stress factor for employees. The French Observatory for Corporate Social Responsibility (ORSE) states that 38% of polled employees receive more than 100 emails a day, and 65% admit checking their inbox at least every hour, when they actually do it every 5 minutes! This stress factor has been strengthened by smartphones, which make it possible to check emails anytime anywhere, turning it into a full-fledged addiction!
This addiction we call “mailism”, is a causing many employees to fall into depression or resign altogether. In order to raise company leaders’ awareness on this issue, ROK Solution started a campaign this summer. We met an anonymous employee who accepted to share their experience of mailism.
Hello and thank you for accepting to share this painful experience with us. First of all, could you tell us the reason that motivated you to come and speak to us?
Anonymous: Hello. If I have decided to speak up today, it’s because I think it’s important to shed light on an issue everyone is familiar with, yet no one wishes to speak of. The law of silence in companies is hard to break through. We need to inform people so that my experience does not happen to other employees.
You speak of a law of silence, but still decided to testify anonymously. Why?
I used to work for a telecommunications group. Even though I am no longer part of the company, I am still concerned for my privacy.
Can you tell us how this all started?
I was hired in 2009, in the finance department. It was tough work but we were motivated. I would come back home, kiss my spouse and kids, and even though they wished I’d come back home earlier we were happy. Just like any other employee, I received a lot of emails every day.
Mailism seeped in slowly. At first I managed my priorities, I’d answer smaller questions on the phone, then emails started to stack up more and more, and answering the phone took too much time, so I answered by email. This was a vicious circle… The more emails you send, the more you receive. At the beginning, I’d only spend about half an hour a day managing emails, but this quickly rose to two, three hours.
You spent two to three hours a day answering emails. This must have had an impact on your productivity, right?
Not at first. I had responsibilities and other tasks to do. So I started going home later and later, in order to finish my daily tasks, and I became more and more tired. I didn’t see my family much because of how much time I spent working, and tensions appeared. In hindsight, I see how hard it has been for my spouse to take care of the children alone and not see me. My spouse worked in a shop so emails were a really minor aspect of their daily routine. They did not really understand when I said: “I’m staying late at work because of emails”.
So you came home late and tired, and your family started to suffer from that. What happened next?
It all happened very fast. My spouse gave me a smartphone for my birthday, thinking that managing emails from home or during commute would free up my schedule. But what happened was actually the opposite. With the usual work stress, and increasing expectations from my employer, I didn’t come home any sooner, and coming home now meant checking emails on my smartphone, sometimes for hours, at night! I would check my inbox up to 10 times an hour, and take a long time to answer. Even during weekends I wasn’t really with my family. I was there, but clearly distracted, always expecting the sound of a new message notification.
Then one Wednesday I received a message from my spouse, telling me they left me with the children, and didn’t want to live with a ghost any longer.
This is when you became aware of your addiction?
Not even then. I kept on as best I could, coming home even later! My smartphone became my best friend… I would even talk to it, sometimes! “Come on, answer, answer!” Then I ended up falling into depression. Nothing was important, except for my emails, and this had an impact on my work. A few weeks later, HR contacted me to tell me this couldn’t go on, and they let me go. The company I worked for had been suffering a 30% productivity drop, and my case was only one of many layoffs. Other employees too suffered from the same disorder.
I had no job, no email, nothing. My depression worsened. I started going online to pass time, using social networks and forums just like my work inbox. I didn’t eat or sleep. I broke down, with an acute “mailingitis”. I became Out Of Service Reply (laughs). At this moment, I became conscious of my addiction.
What about today?
Today, I rarely go out. Every person using their phone in front of me is a temptation. I only have a home phone line and no computer. I’m trying complete withdrawal but it’s tough. Even Internet TV is a temptation.
Thank you for answering our questions. We wish you a fast recovery.
If you found this testimony interesting, don’t hesitate to get in touch! For obvious reasons, our anonymous interviewee will not answer your questions, but our experts will be available.
Thank you and tune in soon for more!