For office workers, getting back from vacation once meant clearing voicemail, returning calls, and catching up with co-workers by the water cooler. Nowadays, it’s catching up on hundreds of emails and Slack messages, and then responding as necessary. The pileup can be immense, as digital communication are so cheap, fast, and easy, meaning there is little disincentive to clicking send. One estimate puts the number of emails sent and received in 2015 worldwide at around 200 billion, with businesspeople sending and receiving 122 emails per day. That figure is growing, making inbox zero an ever more elusive goal.
This takes a toll on workers, which naturally makes it a concern for managers too. "There are just a million distractions at work," says Josh Bersin, the founder of Bersin by Deloitte, an HR-research arm of Deloitte. “The reality of work is if we don't design these experience well, people get overwhelmed.”
In a new survey by Deloitte, which polled 7,000 human-resources professionals from over 100 countries, 65 percent of respondents said they were concerned that their organizations were too bureaucratic and complicated. And yet, only 18 percent of those professionals said they were actively helping employees to deal with information overload at work.