And a lot of the workday is spent reading and answering email.
A new survey by the McKinsey Global Institute said office workers spend an average of 2.6 hours a day dealing with email on the job. That comes out to about 27 workdays a year and about 28 percent of their day.
Michael Hayes of Momentum Specialized Staffing in Phoenix said many times, it's unnecessary.
"When I was working in a big company, about 75 percent of the emails came from inside the company," said Hayes. "Sometimes it was from somebody who was less than 50 feet away from your desk."
Hayes said many interoffice emails are sent so that people can cover themselves if something goes wrong.
"There's always this constant demand to ... make sure you're not going to have any issues," Hayes said.
When there's a problem, Hayes said "Everybody's response is: 'You know, I sent you an email.' It was a way to say 'How come you didn't respond to it or drop everything immediately?' "
Hayes said that workers keep copies of emails, thinking that email is a "get out of jail free card. It's proof that I alerted so-and-so to an issue that was going on."
The survey said that smartphones and laptops keep employees constantly checking their work e-mails, which effectively stretches their eight-hour work day into roughly 12 hours.
Hayes said that employees are starting to keep track of the hours they spend dealing with work email on their own time.
Hayes said, "Let's say if they get fired, they'll go to their employer and say 'You know, I've been keeping track of all of this extra time. What are you going to do with it?' "
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