Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Today I will be talking with you about an issue that almost everybody has experienced in the workplace; notably, email communication and information overload.

 

The Advent of email extended the opportunities for communication to take place in the workplace due to its advantage of allowing for simple and immediate exchange of information.

 

However, current research has uncovered that email communication increases information overload and psychological strain at the workplace. 

 

But what is the exact meaning of “information overload“? This slide presents three core facets of the definition of information overload.

 

First, and perhaps most simply, information overload can be said to be an increased amount of incoming information that exceeds the limited capacity for processing information.

 

Secondly, information overload deals with inefficient workflow. In particular, new emails which steadily stream into the recipient’s mailbox result in continuous interruptions to the recipient. Also, inefficient workflow results due to inappropriate working habits, e.g., how email communication should be integrated into daily task management is often loosely structured. Often, the priority of the communication is misunderstood and the recipient may feel forced to respond immediately, or the application of email communication is put into use in situations inappropriate for the work setting.

 

Finally, email communication comprises a distinct “communication culture”. Email communication is less formal, and emails are quickly written or rashly forwarded. In this vein, email contents are “deficient” in quality. Due to this deficiency in quality, misinterpretations occur.

 

In order to cope with information overload, we developed a training concept for effective email-communication. In the following, I will present to you this training concept and outline the results of an evaluation study that assesses the effectiveness of that training.