Is taming email taboo?

By Sonian
In Channel
August 21, 2012

Article By Sonian

Getting email under control is not exactly an easy subject to tackle. The fact is, workers receive endless reply chains that contain no relevant information, a constant stream of spam emails, meeting requests that could be handled more efficiently and a lot of 40-line conversations that should have been condensed to about 10 words.

Email providers have attempted to tackle this issue by enforcing stricter spam filters and offering services such as auto-prioritizing – Google, for example, started providing this feature in June of 2010. The problem, however, is that most ISPs and business practices either don't do a good job or executives are worried about potentially filtering emails that need to be read.

Because of this, employees are still being confronted with a full inbox when they come in in the morning, and many workers are spending countless hours trying to respond. If you've ever felt like your day would be much more productive without email, you might be right. In fact, according to a study by McKinsey, employees spend 28 percent of their workweek reading, responding to and organizing emails. That means in any given day, a worker is tied to his or her inbox for more than two hours.

Where are we headed?

Some would argue that the email trend is a very serious signal to corporations that they need to do something to tackle this influx. Regardless of our attempts to reduce our reliance, however, email is an important medium. It is a quick and easy way to communicate with anyone in the world while retaining a professional persona. The problem arises when a coworker relies on email to share the video of their one-year-old's first steps that happened over the weekend, or when the office feels they need to crowdsource what type of cake should be purchased to celebrate Becky's 10th year with the company.

Social tools are allowing us to transfer some of the more mundane communication away from work-servers, but companies are still feeling the strain of hosting an increasing number of emails while complying with internal and federal regulations. Utilizing a cloud-based email archiving service can help alleviate the stress and cost on a server, but reducing incoming emails and improving employee efficiency is another matter.

IBM and IDC recently released a whitepaper detailing how we should rely on Facebook, Twitter and social integration within a workplace to disperse some of these problems. Or maybe all it takes is a stronger filtering system and a policy that discourages employees from forwarding those chain emails.

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Author: Kayla Krause