Email Epidemic Threatens Productivity

email epidemic featured image

I attended the Anglian Business Exhibition on the 5th May. Held at the Trinity Park Conference Centre in Ipswich it’s a chance for local businesses to network, find opportunities to work with each other and also members of the public.

While the show itself is a great example of direct communications, 99% of every interaction ends with the exchange of business cards.

Business cards are a handy way to exchange contact details, they’re simple and although electronic ‘contact exchange’ apps exist there’s no standard yet, so you rely on having the same App available, or emailing a contact card.

Phone numbers are on business cards, but it’s the email address everyone is after. Calling someone is useful. It is often quicker to resolve issues, and less there is confusion with interpretation which can happen with emails. But phone calls are often inconvenient, they require both people being available at the same time. It’s also not ‘trackable’ – without recording the call, and that’s just weird.

So this is why email is so popular. Its convenient, can be responded to at a completely different time from when it was sent, and its fully trackable. Not just between the sender and receiver. The mighty CC: has allowed us to involve as many of our colleagues in this discussion as we wish.

Most of us now dread being out of the office for a day, or worse on holiday for several, as we know we’ll return to tens if not hundreds of emails that need sorting through. A high percentage won’t need a response – you were just copied in for info.

And those of us that are actually able to leave our Inbox while we are aware are in the minority! A recent study suggests that over half (53%) of all emails are opened on a mobile device. The rise of accessing email while mobile is linked to the amount we are receiving. Which is crippling many companies.

IT Services company Atos publicly banned the use of email internally within the company, affecting the internal communications of 76,000+ employees throughout 52 countries. Their aim was to move into social collaboration using more intelligent services to produce better engagement.

Professor Sir Cary Cooper speaking at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference was quoted as saying that “We need to ban emails [sent and received] within the same building” pointing out the benefits of face to face meetings when available.

Microsoft new Outlook App for iOS and Android is making a step toward prioritising email for you with its “Focused Inbox” view where it keeps what it classes as Important email. One of the factors in determining this is if your email is sent just to you, or copied in to several people. It’s a principle you can use to help manage your own Inbox, setting up Rules that treat emails just to you differently from emails sent to multiple recipients.

Companies with remote teams, or home workers feel this pain hardest as face-to-face meetings isn’t a viable option for them, and email becomes the default method to keep everyone up to date.

Team collaboration services are a good alternative to try in an attempt to reduce internal emails. Sites like slack.com, Mojo and Twoodo are vying for your business, and it’s worth exploring their features and pricing if you too are struggling to cope under the weight of your email!

This post was written by Rob Gordon, an IT geek, gadget lover and blogger. Rob has been using the internets since 1994 when the only streaming video was that coffee pot in Cambridge (rip).... Follow Rob on Twitter - @robgordon - about.me/robgordonuk