London, June 29 : Distracted by email and instant messages? Worry not, for companies like Google and Intel, which devised the technology in the first place, have come to your rescue. These high-tech giants have found that constant bombardment with electronic communications can result in overload, and are seeking ways to protect workers, starting with their own staff.
Google, which devised Gmail instant messaging, has developed a feature on the company's system, which turns off email for 15 minutes at a time.
Intel, which makes microchips, has introduced 'no email Fridays' and 'quiet time' on Tuesday mornings, when staff are encouraged to ignore electronic communications and speak face-to-face instead.
The consequence has been an improvement in productivity.
Researchers from Google and Intel, Microsoft, IBM and universities, have formed the Information Overload Research Group to find ways of making email less irritating.
The mission of the group is to tackle 'Infomania', in which emails, the BlackBerry, instant messaging and text messages combine to hamper productive work.
"I'm an example of someone who exhibits the problem," The Telegraph quoted John Tang, of IBM's research arm and a member of the group, as saying.
"I'm overwhelmed by email and instant messaging, and by trying to keep up with it, especially while travelling. We're trying to continue the evolution of the technology so the net effect is positive," he added.
A report from Basex showed that 28 per cent of an office worker's day is spent dealing with email and other messages, and that checking each can cause distractions of several minutes.
Tang is working on a system that will help users find the information they want from old emails more quickly.
Nathan Zeldes, the principal engineer at Intel and a driving force behind the new group, said: "This problem is a major productivity killer and makes countless people miserable. Something had to be done."