One-third of Belgians stressed out by email


On the occasion of No-Email Friday, more than one study has been carried out showing that email rules our lives, and a growing number of us are tired of it

Could email be legislated?

One-third of Belgians feel stressed out by the sheer volume of email they receive, according to a study organised by family agency Gezinsbond and the 55+ organisation Okra. The associations have released the figures to coincide with the 10th anniversary of No-Email Friday.

One in three Belgians also report feeling helpless at the speed with which they are confronted with new technologies at work, and one in 10 even fears losing their job because of it.

One in five, meanwhile, feel pressured to answer emails in the evenings and weekends when they really don’t want to. And nearly one-quarter of people aged 55 and over are anxious when they are forced to take care of business online.

A full half of those surveyed would support legislation that would allow workers to ignore emails when they are not officially at work.

No-Email Friday was launched in Belgium 10 years ago by Master Your Email, an Overijse-based firm that works with companies to help their employees get a grip on their volume of email. Some companies have taken up the cause permanently, trying not to use email at all on Fridays.

‘Constantly interrupted’

Gunnar Michielssen, who founded the company, performed an experiment of his own recently. He sent emails to hundreds of contacts at different times of the day with the request to answer the emails immediately.

Nearly half of all recipients responded within 15 minutes. And of those who got the email on a Friday night, nearly one-quarter answered before Monday morning.

“Fast communication seems like a positive thing,” Michielssen told VRT, “but the result is that our work is constantly interrupted. The astonishing results of this test point to the priority that email has over other tasks at work and also over our private lives.”

The No-Email website has several tips for controlling your email use, such as to only check it three times a day and to keep your in-box as empty as possible.