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Why email is a waste of your time

Why email is a waste of your time

Sending emails to your employees could be costing you millions every year.

According to Swoop Analytics, posting internal messages via Teams or Yammer could save people, on average, 26 minutes a day. And whilst 26 minutes a day might not sound like much, over the course of a year that’s two weeks.

Imagine what you could do if every employee had an extra two weeks every year? Imagine the impact on productivity, stress levels and job satisfaction.

And for those wearing a financial hat, for an average organisation with 10,000 employees this level of time saving equates to $30million in annual staff costs.

But for organisations who have relied on email as their backbone for years, making the decision to say no to internal emails can be daunting. If you’re considering a switch from Outlook-based comms and collaboration, here are some things to consider.

Set some ground rules

Making a big organisational change means employees will need clear education and instruction on how your new process will work. Whilst sending quick messages on Teams might be second nature to some, for others sending an email to a colleague might be all they’ve ever known. The key is to never assume which camp someone sits in and to make sure the same level of guidance and information is readily available to all.

When it comes to internal email specifically, your guidelines should answer two key questions. How should I communicate with my colleagues and what should email be used for? Perhaps you want internal messages to live within Teams, and emails should be reserved for client communications. Whichever way works best for your business, your guidelines should be clear and easy to follow.

On top of that, your guidelines on internal emails should be the same across locations, functions and departments. Employees in your UK team won’t feel the benefits if they still rely on email to work with employees in your Australia team. So whilst there might be team-specific nuances in how it works in practice, your base guidelines should be the same for all.

Quick tips

  • Create a matrix of which channels should be used for which type of communications and make it available organisation wide.
  • Offer training to those groups where moving away from email is more disruptive to their working habits.
  • Find your champions within each department to help encourage new collaboration and communication habits.

Offer email alternatives

If you’re asking employees to cut out internal emails, it’s important they have the right tools to do their jobs without needing to send internal emails. This includes basic tasks like requesting holiday or submitting expenses, through to larger business processes like broadcasting internal communications or approval workflows. Each of these can be accomplished by an alternative channel to email, yet for many email is still the channel of choice.

For Microsoft 365 users, the good news is most of this can be accomplished with the tools you already have. The bad news is, understanding what tools and features are available to you, how to use them, and rolling them out in a way that works for your people takes more time and resource than most businesses are able to dedicate.

Before putting an end to internal emails, it’s worth spending some time with a specialist evaluating your Microsoft environment. You could well uncover some hidden gems you didn’t know you had access to, and in the process identify some areas to tighten up collaboration and cut down on those unnecessary emails. If it could save you millions each year, the time spent with a specialist will be worth it.

Quick tips

  • Invite employees to share their most common reasons for internal emails, and look at the tools you already have available to find alternative solutions.
  • Run workshops and training sessions with teams who are more email dependent to help identify how they can cut down.

Go all in on asynchronous working

Moving away from internal emails without a fully thought through plan can just shift the problem to another channel – unnecessary internal emails will become unnecessary Teams chats and meetings. Diving headfirst into asynchronous working can really help cut down on the need for any unnecessary internal messages, regardless of channel.

Put simply, asynchronous working is a way of working that doesn’t require everyone to be online and available at the same time. For companies operating across countries and time zones you’re already working asynchronously, and you might not even realise it.

The key to asynchronous working is embracing productivity tools that actually enable productivity. It’s about spending more time getting the job done, and less time talking about getting things done, or writing emails about getting things done.

But what does that actually look like?

Old Habit New Habit
Sending a teams message or email to share a file Creating a document sharing system that enables employees to easily locate files without needing to ask
Having a weekly meeting to discuss product updates Using project management software – like Microsoft Project, Trello or Asana – to keep track of project progress
Daily stand-up to delegate tasks to your team / Sending a list of tasks in a Teams message or email Assigning tasks to teammates via cards in Microsoft Planner
Having emails and messages open throughout the day Switching off notifications and setting aside time in the day to read and respond to emails and messages

This isn’t to say that messages and meetings don’t have their place – but, just like internal emails, they can be a huge drain on time and brain power. So, whilst these are just a few examples, taking these steps towards asynchronous working can help inspire some fresh ideas on how to make it work for your business.

Quick tips

  • Encourage employees to set auto-responses on emails, letting the sender know that emails are only checked at a certain time each day.
  • Audit your regular meetings and look for opportunities to cut down.
  • Focus on building a culture that removes the expectation of instantaneous replies.

Add an incentive

The last tip on our list is about making it fun. Large scale changes like this can be daunting, and for employees it can seem like yet another rule to follow. Particularly in times like this where organisational change is around every corner. So make it fun.

Perhaps you could offer a quarterly prize for the team that sends the least internal emails (whilst still hitting targets, of course!)

One company who banned internal emails, Platypus Digital, even introduced a rule that anyone who sent an email to another colleague has to donate £5 to charity! This is a particularly great way to align your no-email policy with organisational values.

If you’re spending more time reading and replying to internal emails than getting things ticked off your task list, you’re certainly not alone. The drain on time and productivity is evident, so it may be time to kick internal emails to the curb.

Need a hand preparing your Microsoft environment for a no-email way of working? Let’s talk.

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