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NextGen Magazine


Microsoft Study: Many Workers Spend Two Days a Week on Email and in Meetings

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
May 15, 2023


Many workers spend the equivalent of two workdays a week in meetings and on email, The Wall Street Journal reported a study by Microsoft as finding.

Microsoft researchers found that the 25 percent most active users of its apps spent an average of 8.8 hours a week reading and writing emails, and 7.5 hours logging meetings—and that does not include time these workers spent instant messaging, on the phone or conversing with co-workers.

The study found that, while using Microsoft 365 apps, the average employee spent 57 percent of his or her time using office software for communication, such as meetings, email and chat, and the rest for creating spreadsheets or presentations.

A separate Microsoft survey of 31,000 people worldwide found that nearly two out of three said they struggled to find time and energy to do their actual job, the Journal reported. Those respondents were also more than three times as likely as others polled to say innovation and strategic thinking were a challenge for them.

“People feel quite overwhelmed, a sense of feeling like they have two jobs, the job they were hired to do, but then they have this other job of communicating, coordinating and collaborating,” the company’s corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, Jared Spataro, who led the research, told The Journal.

The increased communication does not translate to improved efficiency, according to a 2022 Harris Poll survey of more than 1,200 workers and executives. Bosses estimated that their teams lost an average 7.47 hours a week to poor communications, it found.

The rise of remote and hybrid work has made communicating online more prevalent, so some companies are moving to institute restrictions. Slack and Dropbox have prescribed dedicated times for meetings and focus time, while Calendly has restricted core meeting hours to between noon and 5 p.m.

According to the more recent Microsoft study, a majority of workers said they think that artificial intelligence (AI) would help lessen their workloads, but almost half worried about the effect of the technology on their job security.

Microsoft owns a large stake in OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, and is integrating the chatbot’s features into some of its products such as Outlook and PowerPoint, the Journal reported.