Where do emails stand in 2020?

Can you still rely on emails in this day and age? We weigh in on the communication challenges, as well as solutions and best alternatives to this popular workplace communication tool.

August 14, 2020
Darpan Keswani

With 124.5 billion business emails sent each year information overload is a real problem for organizations. Employees can’t find the right data when they need it, and essential emails you send can get lost, deleted, or forgotten.

Using email with your frontline workforce brings a new set of challenges. Challenges you can steer away from by changing the way you communicate.

“Emails are an important part of my workday”

That’s fair, emails can be used to schedule meetings, forward information, and talk to vendors and customers.

“So, why should I move away from emails?”

A recent study by Pew reveals that the newest generation of workers (GenZ) prefer messaging and texting to email.

Another survey found that one-third of American employees leave a company when the technology hinders work.

Moving away from email can help you attract and retain top talent as well as avoid other disadvantages like:

It comes with a hidden cost

A Carleton University study found employees spend 11.5 hours or one-third of their time a week answering emails.

Moreso, once an employee opens an email, it takes them 16 minutes to resume their work. Assuming that 10 of the 120 emails require a response, that’s nearly 3 hours a day lost re-focusing.

It’s not always accessible

70% of retail, healthcare, or construction staff are not checking their email a lot at work. So if you send a critical update or policy change, your workers might miss it.

It affects efficiency

Searching for that one email to find an answer is frustrating for your employees. The Service Council’s research found that “time spent looking for information” is the #2 obstacle for staff at the workplace.

It limits collaboration

When you forward emails the receiver has to go through an unstructured chain to get to the point. The longer the email, the harder it is to follow the conversation.

It lessens engagement

Email feels formal, so your staff might hesitate to ask for your feedback, or respond to your suggestions through it.

This issue is especially relevant for industries with low staff engagement like healthcare, manufacturing, and hospitality.

It’s text-reliant

The social media age means staff absorb information using words, pictures, and videos. Email’s text-heavy nature limits how you want to get the message across.

You can add attachments, but most services like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo! have a cap on the file size you can send.

It holds a permanent record

If you send sensitive information to the wrong email address, you can’t delete the message, putting you at risk for non-compliance or -confidentiality.

“What should I do next?”

There are two routes you can take: optimize your email or replace it.

Optimization techniques can reduce the number of emails across inboxes to a certain degree.

Email Optimization # 1: Create healthy email habits

When employees are constantly monitoring their email after work they are missing out on essential downtime that brains need. – Maura Thomas, Author, Personal Productivity Secrets

Use this list of best practices to create a healthy email culture in your company:

Refrain from after-hours communication – Vynamic, a healthcare consultancy in Philadelphia calls this “zmail,” where email is discouraged between 10pm and 7am during the week, and all day on weekends.

Check in chunks – Ask employees to check emails twice a day, it will help them focus on their work for longer. Encourage phone calls for urgent matters.

Consider the why – Is the email you’re sending important or a ‘just in case’ message? If it’s the latter, talk to your employees instead.

Email Optimization # 2: Use ‘email management’ tools

Time Trackers (Toggl, Clockify) show users how much time they’re spending in their inboxes. Once employees realise emails are consuming their workday, they’ll be more mindful to set aside time for deep work.

Email CRM (Zoho, Salesforce) helps users centralize and organize all information on one dashboard, reducing the time spent switching between their inbox and the CRM.

Email Replacement: Internal Communication Platform

Most familiar consumer chat apps are mobile-first and intuitive, so it’s best to implement a similar tool at work. An internal communication platform like Eko fits the bill and allows businesses to:

Encourage collaboration

Chats, voice and video calls boost employee engagement and ease feedback.

Structure communications

Topics are threaded chats that make it easy for your staff to follow and manage conversations around a certain subject.

Motivate employees

Thumbs Up can be used to praise employees, make them feel valued, and improve staff retention.

Save time

Where do emails stand in 2020?

Knowledge Management helps your staff find information quicker as all your company policies, process checklists, and other documents are stored in one place.

Is an organization without email possible?

Companies who want to remain competitive have to attract and retain talent by fulfilling their demands. The modern worker wants real-time collaboration, regular feedback, and to be engaged. Email optimization and adopting a communication platform are just two of the several paths you can take to strengthen your internal communications. In the end, it’s about finding a method most suited to your workforce.


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