Just imagine a world without email.
For some, cold sweats might already start breaking out as they wonder how we’d survive. Others might be doing a jig as they imagine a world where they no longer must step on the treadmill that email has become.
How did we get here? How have we found ourselves in a position where a technology devised in the seventies is still the method of communication so many seem to rely on?
I dream of a world without email.
Email has become my least preferred method of communication. I can’t shake off the feeling that we’d all be better off without it. Don’t get me wrong, I get some lovely emails. Being community manager here at DPG many people contact me with feedback, questions and ideas. Those emails, I could receive all day long.
Most people I talk to though are trapped under a constant swamp of emails ping-ponging with threads, replies and follow ups with discussion that span over days, weeks or even months. Stuff just takes too long. Wouldn’t it have been quicker to just talk?
The statstics tell me...
Yes. It would have been quicker. For a while now, I’ve been looking at data on my own personal email. Sad, but true! Currently, my average response time to an email is four and a half days. It’s quicker to send me a letter! To make it worse, consistently more than 95% of emails I don’t even reply to.
Yet on my professional emails I know that I just wouldn’t get away with that level of performance. I don’t want to let people down or ignore people. That’s not my thing. I want to be part of the conversation and there to help.
So instead, probably just like you, I spend hours working with email. Sifting, organising, prioritising, replying and deleting. It’s one hell of an in-tray isn’t it? A bottomless pit. Then there’s that overwhelming feeling when you return from holiday knowing another pile is waiting for you. The carefully crafted out of office message has done zilch to discourage people from adding another few to the pile.
But what about the impacts to the organisations we work for? Multiply the number of employees by the hours spent on email and you’re running into some serious cost, right? And what about communication? What sort of barrier is created when we choose to write to people rather than speak to them? That’s not healthy for interpersonal relationships, team work or collaboration is it?
The customer experience is often shot too. I see organisations create email address after email address after email address of different points of contact for customers to use depending on the nature of their enquiry. A whole directory of email addresses. Putting my customer hat on, is it really my job to figure out your complex communication pathways so that my enquiry gets diverted to the right desk?
What are the alternatives to email?
A couple of weeks ago, I was exploring alternatives to email in a conversation with my personal learning network and I got some interesting responses. Getting off the email bandwagon is something many are trying to do. Here at DPG we’re on a continued journey of digital transformation using tools like Slack and Trello to help us collaborate as an alternative to email. We make it easy for our customers with alternatives too. Our online DPG Community is a great place to connect and discuss in small study groups or as part of a wider network of almost 10,000 professionals. We also use our channels on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook as ways to interact with our brand.
The video I’ve just posted in the L&D Zone, ‘Outside the Inbox’, was made by Luis Suarez a few years ago. He’s a guy I’ve certainly learned a lot from when it comes to communicating in today’s modern organisations beyond email.
It’s well worth a watch.
And once you have….. imagine a world without email.