An aspect that’s common across various types of businesses is that they deal with a lot of email. The email statistics is appalling. Under our very nose, the email monster has grown to unprecedented level. There are 4.3 billion email accounts and 205 billion emails are sent/received every day. In businesses, on an average, employees receive 88 business emails every day and spend 25-30% of their time in email alone — which makes a whooping 2.5 hours out of the 8 hours workday. Email is easily the largest time sink in the modern work environment.
How much is 25-30% of your company’s monthly salary expenditure? Wouldn’t that be the monetary value of the time going in email?
Wait, it gets worse. The above figure is an average, which means that some employees would get less than that and some would get more. Isn’t it? Typically, the more experienced one is or the higher up one is, the more email one gets. In other words, the people who are paid highly get more email. This means that those very employees whom you are expecting to contribute more are spending more time in email. Employees who receive 120+ emails a day complain that they can hardly get anything accomplished in their office hours. Do you realize that, by not doing anything about the situation, you have been literally writing off the large part of their fat salaries?
Wait a minute, are we being too aggressive in suggesting that most of the time spent in email is a waste? After all, email is the means of communication, and shouldn’t the time spent in communicating be counted as productive time?
Let’s examine this in more detail. Today more than 70% of the email floating around is spam. A lot of it is thankfully caught by good spam filters, but the spam reported to be reaching employee’s inboxes is still 12-14%. One would say that’s manageable, but let’s quickly see what’s not spam.
- In any organization, there is a lot of traffic of internal email when messages are copied to a lot of people. “To be safe, copy everything to boss” is a strategy followed by many employees. But doesn’t it make life difficult for the bosses by increasing their email volume? This email is not considered spam.
- When your organization creates a foreign tour policy, it sends it out to every employee. Do all of them need it then? Probably not. But they will need to check it out and tuck it in a folder so that it’s handy if and when they need it in future. Again this type of email is not spam.
These two examples are sufficient to bust the expectation that everything that is not classified as spam is relevant. In reality, very little email is relevant. Most employees report 80% of the email they receive being irrelevant. Now, doesn’t this imply that the majority of time spent in email is a waste? It can hardly be considered productive.
We have deliberately left out the cost of the email infrastructure and what is needed to maintain it, as it is going to be minuscule compared to the cost of time organization-wide.
We intend to make it a 3 part series, starting with this article. In the next one, we shall cover some more email challenges which are lesser known. Then in the last article, we shall cover the approaches we take and the good and bad of those. Please add your comments to let us know what you think.