email inbox

Malta’s workers spend almost an entire hour per day on their emails, nearly twice as much as the next EU country. A study by DeskTime, a time tracking and employee management software company, demonstrates email habits of Europe’s workers and Malta’s results are jarring.

Europeans spend an average of 17 minutes per day on email, equal to 6.8 per cent of their total work-time. However, workers in Malta surpass that by a significant margin.

Relative to other European Union (EU) countries, Malta easily claims the top spot, with each worker spending 55.02 minutes per day (15.99 per cent of work-time) on their emails.

Malta is followed by Spain, where workers clock in an average of 38.35 minutes (14.12 per cent of work-time), and Greece, where workers spending 36.82 minutes (10.95 per cent of work-time) on emails.

At the bottom of the list is a country with a similar population size to Malta, Luxembourg. Workers in Luxembourg spend 2.11 minutes on average per day on emails, just 0.71 per cent of their total work-time. They are followed by Austria where workers clock in 3.68 minutes (2.35 per cent of work-time) and Belgium where workers spend 4.25 minutes (1.81 per cent of work-time) on emails.

DeskTime speculated that the relative low use of email in some countries may be due to employees having adjusted to remote and hybrid work environments following the COVID-19 pandemic, and learnt to rely more on instant messaging tools for communicating with their colleagues.

They also mentioned the growing awareness around the importance of reducing and optimising email usage as a means of increasing productivity. DeskTime added that productivity experts have advocated for strategies such as “inbox zero”, a rigorous approach to managing an email inbox, by making sure its empty, or almost empty, at all times.

However, the theory is somewhat at odds with Malta’s situation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Malta became one of the top 10 adopters of teleworking in the EU, yet workers spend far more time on email than anywhere else in Europe.

It could be that Malta's office culture, even if it's remote or hybrid, may still be heavily email-centric. Therefore, having access to instant-messaging platforms and teleworking is not enough, but a concerted effort is necessary to optimise workers' time.

In light of rising labour costs, Maltese firms could look to optimising email usage as low-hanging fruit for increasing worker productivity.

By cutting down their daily email usage by half an hour, Maltese workers would still be among the top half of countries with the highest email usage, but would have an additional two and a half hours per week to allocate towards more productive tasks.

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