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World – Face-to face communication favoured, Randstad Workmonitor claims

05 March 2012

In an age of technology, where the majority of employees will almost always have the ability to access emails on computers, smartphones or tablets, many workers still prefer face-to-face communication.

This is the finding of the latest Randstad Workmonitor report which concluded that an information overload in the workplace increases the wish of employees to go back to a more traditional form of communication.  Some 70% of those surveyed said that they would prefer to talk to their colleagues face-to-face, even though the rise of the internet and related technologies makes it easier than ever to talk instantly and remotely.

The report discovered that, across the globe, most employees now have the ability to access emails, with Japan (89%), China (93%) and India (93%) offering the widest spread internet access when at work. Surprisingly, Belgium has one of the lowest rates with only 66%. On average, half of the working population of the world have access to a smartphones, with the eastern part of the world again coming out on top, and China and Hong Kong proving to be widest spread with 84% and 79% respectively.

However, the impersonal nature of emails appears to make the electronic communication and unpopular option. In emails, it can often be hard to judge the mood and emotion that someone puts into it, meaning that they can often be misinterpreted, and people can become annoyed or confused far more easily, with problems and confusion being resolved far more easily face-to-face.

The IT company Atos, which employs 80,000 people worldwide in 42 different countries,  said that it was slowly going to fade out emails in a bid to boost the concentration levels of staff, with 90% of emails being described as worthless.

Thierry Breton, chief executive of Atos, said that within 18 months, employees would be undertaking more personal communication.

"It is not right that some of our fellow employees spend hours in the evening dealing with their e-mails. Reading useless messages is terrible for concentration, as it takes 64 seconds to get back on the ball after doing so. Poorly controlled, the e-mail can become a devastating tool."

Randstad also reported in the Workmonitor that the majority of workers feel under pressure by the deluge of emails they receive on a daily basis. In the eastern part of the world, far more people believe that they receive more emails than they can deal with every day. Furthermore, it was also reported that 50 to 60% of the population regularly deal with work-related matters in their private time after work, an issue which could only serve to drive down morale.

Conclusion: In the workplace, while emails are a vital tool which can allow people to communicate instantly even when they are far away from each other, the fact that many prefer to communicate in more traditional arenas shows that companies would do well to listen to employees and try to reduce the burden of information they have to process, the report suggests.

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