After the end of the January government shutdown, one worker reported coming back to nearly 4,500 unread emails. That’s a symptom of a dysfunctional government, to be sure. But it’s also a sign of a tool that’s outlived its usefulness.
Our collective email obsession is now, without a doubt, seriously cutting into our days, our nights, and our personal and professional lives, to the detriment of the organizations we serve.
Businesses relying on email for project management often get trapped within silos. Teams don’t communicate properly, because stakeholders are cut off from one another. Staff members move in different directions without seeing the bigger picture. Middle management can get mired in a flood of communications, with nearly 3 in 5 managers missing out on vital information every day purely because they don’t know where to find it. Much of these difficulties can be traced back to clicking “send” on that latest email.
Email costs us time…and money
On average, workers lose an estimated 2.6 hours of work a day on email alone. Employees check their inbox 36 times an hour with 105 emails sent and/or received each day. That flood of email correspondence alone can cause inbox overload. Then messages pile up and everything starts to feel like spam. Of course, that could also be because roughly 45 percent of the emails we sort through on a daily basis are indeed spam. That junk is estimated to collectively cost businesses $20 billion a year.
Email hurts organization
Even after you remove spam and its negative impact from the equation, emails can still often fail to achieve their intended purpose. Messages meant to schedule meetings for a team lead to unending response chains. While some discussion via email can be a good thing, the endless threading of these correspondences waste gobs of time.
Email no longer moves at the speed of business
Email was invented before the days of endless spam, remote workforces, and the exigencies of agile development. Our needs, meanwhile, have changed as the type and volume of information—and the number of people needing to access it—have expanded dramatically. Once viewed as the fastest means of communication, email has become too slow for a new generation of employees accustomed to the transparency, agility, and speed of modern messaging. (For some, these tools have largely replaced email, but they come with their own pitfalls if not used mindfully.)
To foster a truly collaborative environment and boost productivity, teams must be easily accessible, discussions searchable. Email is simply no longer the tool for this task. In a modern world built for speed and an increasingly remote workforce, businesses failing to keep everyone on the same page in real time are simply falling behind. It’s time for all of us, before we press “send” again, to ask ourselves if there’s a better way.