November 6, 2015
At this week’s CIPD conference in Manchester, HR Godfather Cary Cooper used his keynote address to highlight the deleterious effects of email on productivity and wellbeing. He once more highlighted how email remains the single most substantial drain on people and called on the serried ranks of managers to take up arms against our overstuffed inboxes. No doubt he now welcomes the news that one tech company is determined to become the solution to the problem, even though they’re also the cause of it. Google have launched a system called Smart Reply for Gmail users which uses a ‘deep neural network’ to analyse incoming emails and suggest three likely replies to mobile users to choose from, enabling them to respond quickly and without expending too much energy. Responses are not based on any insight into the user’s own preferences, but what the system considers likely as a general rule.
According to a report in Human Resources magazine, in his speech Cooper cited statistics from a new study carried out with IBM that claims half of people believe their productivity increases with more face-to-face communication and a similar number say that while email is useful it takes time away from more valuable tasks, over a third 34 (percent) of people check their emails every day on waking up, and 38 percent check emails every night at home..
“Email is a big issue for us in terms of overload,” he claims. “We better watch it. We use IT more than ever. [The UK’s productivity problem] is not about not having the equipment, it’s about how we manage people.”