In Focus: A Life Without E-Mail at Work?

By Aliah D. Wright Oct 15, 2015
LIKE SAVE PRINT
Reuse Permissions

Did you know that nearly 183 billion e-mails are sent and received each day? That’s according to digital news site Source Digit. What’s more, by the end of this year, 2.6 billion of the 7 billion people in the world will use e-mail, according to technology market research firm the Radicati Group, Inc.

That’s a lot of messages.

It’s no wonder some companies are abandoning e-mail in favor of their own internal social communication channels— those powered by companies such as Slack, HipChat, Jive or Yammer.

And some people are addicted to their work e-mail almost as if they’re addicted to drugs.

As SHRM Online reported earlier this year, people get a “rush” when they hear the ding of an e-mail alert and can experience withdrawal symptoms—from e-mail—when they’re on vacation.

(SHRM Online)

Abolish E-mail?

Salary.com surveyed more than 750 working professionals for its 2014 Wasting Time At Work Survey and discovered that 78 percent of employees were wasting at least 30 minutes a day at work. The biggest time sucker: E-mail.

“Every second that we spend, whether it’s reading an e-mail, writing an e-mail … is time we’re not spending actually doing our job,” said Asana co-founder Justin Rosenstein, who co-created Facebook’s “like,” Facebook Pages, G-mail Chat, and Google Drive, during a Bloomberg Businessweek interview. Asana is an enterprise collaboration platform. Its employees have relegated e-mail to “second-class citizen” status and have found their customers doing the same.

“We have customers that say that 90 percent of their e-mail disappeared after adopting Asana,” Rosenstein said of those who use his platform for internal communications instead of e-mail. He called using e-mail “soul sucking and [it] really contributes to the kind of employee disengagement that is responsible for half-a-trillion dollars’ worth of lost productivity.”

(Salary.com) and (Bloomberg Business Video)

After Leaving E-mail Behind

Four years ago, the global France-based IT-services company Atos announced that it was banning e-mail.

Why?

Because people were spending about 15-20 hours a week reading and writing e-mails to one another, according to Bloomberg Business news. E-mail “was becoming a burden to our employees rather than an enabler,” Human Resources Chief Philippe Mareine said.

Since moving to an e-mail-less environment, the volume of e-mail employees send to one another has fallen 70 percent. That’s about six messages per person each day.

(Bloomberg Business)

But How Do You Get Rid of E-Mail?

Not without growing pains. Some companies begin weaning themselves from e-mail by taking time-out approach. For example, for four days a year, LaSalle Network’s 150 employees must communicate either by phone or in-person. The Chicago-based staffing agency shuts off instant messaging and e-mail and encourages its employees to only check it for 30 minutes twice a day. They are allowed, however, to prioritize the messages they can’t disregard. “There’s a sense of energy when people are talking rather than typing,” CEO Tom Gimbel, told Crain’s Chicago Business. He started the limited e-mail plan in 2013 and is thinking of moving the exercise to every month. But abandoning e-mail completely? “It's a shock to people and it’s hard.”

According to Gloria Mark at the University of California at Irvine it takes more than 23 minutes to get back into the work flow after an e-mail interruption, Crain’s reports.

(Crain’s Chicago Business)

How to Abandon E-Mail in 9 Steps

According to Forbes there are steps people can take to snatch their lives back from e-mail’s time-sucking clutches.

They are:

  • Check e-mail only during specific times of the day.

  • Deploy software to help monitor urgent e-mails.

  • Empty the inbox daily.

  • Shut off notifications.

  • Prioritize e-mails based on response and action.

  • Limit your responses.

  • Create an e-mail filing system that prioritizes actions.

  • Filter e-mails by setting up e-mail rules.

  • Automate responses by using a variety of e-mail signatures.

  • Unsubscribe from unnecessary e-mails.

    (Forbes)

LIKE SAVE PRINT
Reuse Permissions

SHRM WEBCASTS

Choose from dozens of free webcasts on the most timely HR topics.

Register Today

Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You

SPONSOR OFFERS

Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies

Search & Connect