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The amount of time employees spend on work email has increased by 10% this year, due to the fact Britons are watching their inbox around the clock, according to new research.

UK office workers spend three months a year reading and replying to both work and personal messages, almost an entire month more than German office workers, who spend 62 days a year checking their inbox.

However, this is nine days less than French workers, who are active on email for 99 days each year, according to the research by Adobe.

The majority of UK workers (79%) check emails out of office hours and when it comes to the weekend, UK workers engage with an average of 43 work emails, while Germans engage with 17, and professionals in France engage with 16.

Out of those surveyed in the study, 66% of those surveyed check their email while watching TV, while 53% check their email in bed, and 43% check it when they’re commuting to work.

A staggering 66% check their email whilst on holiday and during a regular working day, less than a quarter (22%) of respondents in the UK wait until they’re in the office before they check their work emails.

John Watton, EMEA marketing director at Adobe said: “This year’s email survey has highlighted more than ever the impact that smartphones are having on our email behaviour.

“While having access to email in your pocket can boost workplace productivity, we’re continuing to see self-imposed email detoxes which our respondents said made them feel more relaxed and liberated. It just goes to show that there are benefits to switching off every once in a while.”

Evolving email style

The growth of smartphone use also seems to be impacting the style of emails. Mobile device usage for emails increased 15% in 2016 while desktop emailing decreased by 16%.

Office workers reported that email styles are developing more text message-like qualities, whilst 38% observe that emails are becoming more informal, 32% think that emails are now shorter, and 26% find that the written quality of emails is decreasing.

Emojis are increasingly frequenting workplace inboxes, too, with nearly a third (32%) of Britons admitting to using them in the workplace. This number is on the up, with 20% of UK office workers observing that emoji use in office email is increasing.

Over half (51%) of those surveyed would send an emoji email to their peers, while 27% would send an emoji to a direct manager, and 19% would send to a senior executive, however the majority (80%) expressed that using emojis in emails to senior executives was inappropriate or very inappropriate.

Annoying email behaviours and fighting back

One of the reasons for our exploding inboxes comes as a result of annoying email behaviours like using ‘reply all’ when it is not necessary – the biggest annoyance for nearly a quarter of office workers (23%). This is followed by sending emails as a replacement for an in-person conversation (19%) and needlessly copying managers into emails (14%).

However, UK workers are attempting to fight back to better manage their inboxes, with 47% unsubscribing to email newsletters they don’t need and 44% actioning an email as soon as they receive it – whether deleting it, filing it or immediately replying.

A quarter (25%) dedicate particular hours of the day solely to managing their emails, and over a third (36%) of UK office workers have even resorted to taking a ‘digital detox’ or break from email entirely, lasting an average of six days.