While email is one of the most common communication channels in the workplace, most workers are oversaturated with emails and spend an average of 90 minutes a day reading and responding to their email. Explore the pros and cons of email in the workplace to ensure communications are efficient and workers can stay productive and positive.
Email Benefits at Work
Email is the one tool that every staff member has access to, no matter which department they work in. There is no denying that it’s a great tool for mass bulletins from HR, team communication, supervisor-employee check-ins, and much more. Email is so commonly used at work because it’s simple, quick, and a much better way to pass on information than via the phone or in a meeting.
Organizations also like email because it creates a paper trail of who said what. This can enforce accountability for work performance, demonstrate compliance with organizational mandates, and make sure that staff members retain the same perception of what’s been said at a meeting or in conversation. After a meeting, how often does someone type up the meeting minutes or to-do list and email these out to attendees to keep everyone on the same page?
Email also integrates easily with calendaring utilities, so that staff can click to add a meeting or webinar reminder, or complete a poll or survey indicating their availability.
While there are many uses for email, when people get too much email then it becomes easy to ignore messages in a cluttered inbox. This renders the medium ineffective.
The Hidden Downside to Office Email
As unread emails in the inbox pile up, so too does employee stress. 22 percent of employees report feeling disorganized when their email inbox is too cluttered. As staff power through a backlog of emails, they may be so caught up that they do not see urgent emails or fail to manage time wisely.
Staff may also stress over email etiquette, wondering if they must respond to emails sent late at night or over the weekend. Stressed-out staff are less productive, more anxious, and report lower morale than staff that do not feel stressed.
Along with increasing stress, email can actually increase miscommunication in the workplace. It’s much more difficult to read the tone of an email than a conversation. As a result, a staff member may take offense to an email that was meant in jest, causing interpersonal problems that may persist long after the offending message was sent.
The sheer volume of emails in the workplace is projected to increase by 32 percent between 2013 and 2017. If your employees are already stressed and less productive over the volume of emails sent by coworkers, things are only going to get worse.
Email communication has many benefits but it is not perfect, especially when a matter is critical. For critical communication email should be used in conjunction with other methods such as phone or text message alerts that communicate information in a fast, reliable, and transparent manner.