Checking e-mails at work takes ten years off working life

THE quest for the paperless office is exacting a huge price in terms of health and profits in the Scottish workforce.

Researchers have found that workers waste the equivalent of almost ten working years checking their e-mail accounts – costing the country's economy more than 9 billion every year.

Many people addicted to the e-mail system can't control the urge to log on.

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Research from a Scottish IT training company has shown that responding to an e-mail every five minutes clocks up a staggering 8.5 hours a week given the "recovery" time required after each interruption – adding up to 9.7 years of a working life.

Howard Teale, general manager at Indicia Training, said the problem lies in an inability to switch between e-mailing and work.

He said: "Stopping to check e-mail ten times a day requires a lot of brain switching so when it comes to getting sidetracked, e-mail is a major culprit."

Experts have warned of a growing addiction to technology.

Dr Michael Reddy, psychologist and director of Human Potential Accounting,

said: "There are some people who, for instance, get up in the middle of the night and on their way to the toilet have to stop off to check their e-mail.

"Like any addiction, it is the subconscious looking for something that will settle their anxiety and give them something to do.

"The problem with e-mail addiction is that, unlike with alcohol or gambling, you cannot remove the need to use a computer and communicate via e-mail from a person's working life."