A study of 2,000 office workers found they typically spend around two hours each day browsing their inbox.
However, around half of this time is wasted by accidentally re-reading messages, needlessly checking for updates and sending emails to colleagues when it is easier to speak to them face-to-face.
As a result, around five hours per week – or 230 hours a year – of productivity is lost.
SoftwareONE conducted the research as part of National Work Life Week, to highlight how a better understanding of IT office suites can transform the work-life balance and productivity of workers who use a computer in the office.
It also revealed one fifth of office workers confessed their performance at work was hindered by their lack of IT knowledge.
And 15 per cent added they were too shy or embarrassed to ask for help using office suites, causing it to affect their time management.
Andy Dunbar, of SoftwareONE, said: “People constantly check emails when they don’t need to and it is making work harder by unnecessarily taking up time and causing them to lose focus.
“But it needn’t be the case. Collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams, which many office workers have access to but aren’t aware of, make it easy to message, chat or collaborate on documents with co-workers without reverting to email.
“And if email is needed, simple things like only opening up your email once per hour can transform your efficiency.”
The study also found that Londoners are the biggest offenders, admitting they needlessly use up more than an hour and 30 minutes of their working day browsing their inbox – 50 per cent more than those in the south east and West Midlands.
Computer users in Scotland are the most time efficient with their emails, followed by those in East Anglia and Wales.
It also emerged the typical office worker sends 10 emails per day to colleagues when it could be simpler to speak to them face-to-face or instant message them.
And more than half (54 per cent) of those surveyed felt their productivity and focus is hampered by regularly checking their inbox but that it was something they needed to do.
Workers aged 25-34 admitted to struggling the most, typically sending 15 emails each day when it’s easier to speak to the recipient and wasting an hour and 20 minutes in their inbox.
Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of those also said their regular email check reduces their productivity.
Andy Dunbar, from SoftwareONE, added: “We also need to look at how maximising the functions of available tools and technology can revolutionise our organisational skills and boost our output.
“Tools like MyAnalytics can help you manage your email usage better by cutting out unproductive use and improving your work-life balance, while Microsoft Teams allow groups of people to work on documents simultaneously from remote locations.
“This helps to empower staff, boost productivity and improve work-life balance.”
In recent years, improved technology has radically improved people’s work-life balance with more companies allowing staff to work from home.
Of those surveyed by OnePoll for SoftwareONE, half said their employer will let them work from home for at least one day a week.
However, some said their employer still had an “old fashioned” approach and didn’t allow them to work from home – despite technology enabling people to carry out their job to the same level from a remote location.
Others said staff weren’t trusted to work from home and there was the belief they need to be seen to be working.
This is despite two thirds saying they could perform their job at the same or higher level working at home.
And 56 per cent said it would be a better use of their time to collaborate simultaneously on a group presentation from individual offices.
SoftwareONE has developed a quiz to see how productive you are – whether you’re a ninja in the workplace or if you need to boost your office efficiency.
Take the quiz here.
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