The average office worker is bombarded by 169 telephone, e-mail, voice mail, postal and other communications every working day - and many are struggling to cope, a survey published Monday showed.

The survey of thousands of workers in Britain, the United States and Canada was conducted by the Pitney Bowes office equipment company and California-based think-tank Institute for the Future."It has come to the point where a worker's goal for the day is to try to conscientiously respond to all the messages that have accumulated," Pitney Bowes' Chief Communications Officer, Meredith Fischer, told a London news conference.

The survey, which used a team of anthropologists to observe peoples' working day as well as conventional polling techniques, showed that more than a third of executives in all three countries described themselves as "overwhelmed" by the number of messages they received.

Almost half of all executives and managers complained that they regularly received several messages saying the same thing.

Fischer said there was no magic solution to the problem, but there were some ways of easing the load.

A quick `Thanks, I got it' reply to an e-mail message would prevent follow-up messages from the sender, she said.