Senders expect quick responses to work e-mails

You might want to think twice about delaying your response to that work e-mail.

A recent study conducted by MailTime, a smartphone e-mail app, revealed that a majority of people expect a response to their work-related e-mails in a timely fashion: 52 percent of participants expected a response within 12 to 24 hours of hitting send, and 19 percent of participants expected a response within 12 hours.

Those expectations often differ from how people use their e-mail at work, said Charlie Sheng, MailTime co-founder. When e-mail entered the workplace in the 1990s, early adapters developed a routine of checking their inbox first thing in the morning and ignoring it the rest of the day, Sheng said.

“Now it’s different,” she said. “The e-mail stream is getting more instant. People are getting more alerts when you are receiving a new e-mail. There is some danger that if you don’t hear from someone in hours, you will feel like they are ignoring you.”

People have different expectations for work and personal e-mails, according to the study. Though most people expect responses to work-related e-mails in 24 hours, 60 percent of those surveyed said they expect responses to personal e-mails within 48 hours.

Only 3 percent of people can tolerate work-related e-mail responses that take one week, while 10 percent of people can tolerate personal e-mail responses that take that long.

In many ways, the survey represents the shifting dynamic of the workplace. E-mail has become the first line of contact, especially for younger workers. And the way people are reading e-mail has changed.

According to Movable Ink, a New York-based e-mail marketing service, 66 percent of all e-mails are first opened either on a smartphone or a tablet, which means e-mail senders can be relatively certain their messages will be received almost instantaneously.

But it is more challenging to respond to e-mails on those devices than on desktop or laptop computers.

Sheng suggests people respond quickly to work e-mails – maybe not with a full reply but at the very least with an e-mail letting the sender know the subject has the recipient’s attention and that a more thorough response is coming.