According to Radicanti, a technology market research firm, over half the world’s population uses email and the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will exceed 293 billion by the end of this year.
Each day, the average office worker receives 121 emails. It’s fair to say, most of us are feeling pretty overloaded.
While emailing is a great tool for certain types of communication - it’s not always the best for getting work done efficiently. The following 5 reasons explain why email can not only be bad for productivity, but can hurt communication in your organisation on the whole.
1. Lack of Accountability and Trust
One downside of emails is that they can cause issues of trust to arise. Instead of confronting a situation, it becomes easy to be deceptive in a request for information over email, and underhand dealings are prone to occur.
Emails are not the most transparent form of communication. There is no easy way to know whether an email has been read or received. They can enable people to avoid accountability and therefore keeps people out of the loop from certain activities.
On the other hand, what might have started off as a decision by consulting (via Cc’ing people in) becomes a decision by consensus; further delaying a decision from being made, if at all.
2. Time-Wasting and Inefficient
The McKinsey Global Institute found that an average employee spends 13 hours a week reading and responding to email. That’s by far the most time-consuming work activity at 28% of our work time. If you work it out – this equates to 650 hours a year spent on completely reactive, low-value work.
This is a large amount of time wasted. To top it off, it takes an average of 64 seconds to just get back into work after answering any one email.
3. Information is Inaccessible
Do you ever find yourself having to sift through long threads to find information? If so, you’ll know that email can sometimes be an ineffective communication tool for day-to-day work management.
Information in inboxes is not only hard to find, but can easily be missed altogether. Aside from being a clunky and slow process, it can cause detriment to businesses if certain details are needed quickly to complete a job.
4. Doesn’t Cater to Real-Time Communication
Most email systems are designed with a desktop-first approach, which is an issue when over 72% of the workforce doesn’t sit at a desk. This percentage of the workforce are on-the-go and may not have time to wade through a clunky email app on their mobiles to find the information they need to hand. And if they need an answer fast, they aren’t going to get one through email.
5. Not Made For Collaboration
Email wasn’t initially designed as a collaboration tool, yet so many organisations attempt to use it that way. From managing whole projects to troubleshooting a problem, these endless email threads become confusing, time-consuming and bad for productivity.
What's the Alternative?
Applying a Market Network
While emails will continue to play an important role in the workplace, communication difficulties still remain. Applying a Market Network model to this problem could be a step in the right direction. Market Networks for job and workforce management are attempting to kickstart a more fundamental transformation of the way job management is delivered.
Market Networks are software-as-a-service tools which allow businesses to create a profile, connect with customers and subcontractors and manage their workflow; not just within their organisation but as they interact with other companies.
Businesses using Market Networks for job management can receive jobs from customers on an online platform as well as add jobs for their employees and subcontractors. Accessible by computer, smartphone and tablet alike, any jobs put through these systems can be viewed and updated in real time, meaning no duplication of information or having to chase up workers for reports.
Users can also communicate with each other using the integrated instant-messaging system. Connecting in this way helps to ensure that messages are easily retrievable and not lost between emails, texts and forgotten phone calls.
One feature of particular advantage to those in the trade industries is the ability for workers to upload photos and videos onto these job management systems using their respective smartphone apps. A plumber, for example, could upload an image of a repair they have just made. Workers with the app installed on their phones can also be tracked using GPS so that businesses can quickly see who is at what job at any given time.
Compared to existing methods of managing jobs, market networks are in fact far more straightforward. Instead of hunting to no end through email servers, market network users can easily recover past job communications by searching dedicated messaging channels specific to each of their contacts.
Instead of recording information across emails and various poorly coordinated office applications, all documents are stored electronically so that they are easy to find again. It’s all there together and in the same place.
It’s hard to imagine the working world today without email, yet when it comes to most of the processes of job management email-based systems are either behind the times or deeply flawed. At great effort and administration costs, businesses have had to learn and apply these systems over the years or risk being superseded.
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