Electronic communication is becoming an integral part of the communication
structure within organisations, but the costs and benefits are not being assessed. The
aim of this research was to analyse the cost effectiveness of using email, to suggest
ways in which the cost effectiveness can be improved, and to discover if there is an
interrupt recovery time associated with an email interruption. This research was
mainly carried out at the Danwood Group which has just over 500 employees at 19
sites around the UK. The Danwood Group retails office equipment, predominately
As part of trying to understand email interactivity, research has been carried out to
determine if there is such a phenomenon as an interrupt recovery time for email and,
if there is, to discover if there is a “hard” cost associated with an email interruption.
DeMarco reported that the recovery time after a phone call interruption is at least 15
minutes, thus increasing the amount of time spent on interrupts a day (DeMarco T.
and Lister T. 1987). However, DeMarco’s research was carried out using software
developers as the subjects. The highly creative nature of a software developer’s job
means they are likely to require extra time to recover from an interrupt compared to
other job roles, hence the 15 minutes recovery time. So far, there has been no reported
empirical research into how long it takes to recover from an email interrupt.