Email: Love it or hate it, there is a cost to its use

Emails.

Does the thought of your inbox conjure up an image of having to donate time and energy that you don’t have, to keep up with the never-ending arrivals?

Ask teenagers about email and they will look at you with a roll of the eyes and respond along the lines of only old “fuddy-duddies” bother with that stuff. They seem to view email as old hat as much as snail mail, preferring to text or tweet instead.

But email is alive and well and used a lot in the business world. Some would say overused or abused. People talk about email overload and issues of confidentiality and privacy.

One of the big problems I see with email is the potential ambiguity of some of the messages that can lead to potential misinterpretation of the information provided.

But one factor that I haven’t seen addressed before in the literature, is how much using email is as a cost to business. With snail mail, it’s relatively easy to factor in the stationery costs and labour costs, but what about email – it’s free right?

Well naturally as with most things, email is definitely not for free and researchers from the UK and Australia have now put a cost on email at between five to ten thousand pounds (Sterling) per employee per year. That’s equivalent to $8.5 to $17K Australian. The researchers have come up with a formula for bosses to use and calculate how much of an employees’ salary is effectively paying for their email use.

Consider some of their findings:

I:5 emails were cc’ed unnecessarily

13% were irrelevant or untargeted.

41% were for information purposes

46% emails sent expected an action to be taken by the recipient without stating what the required action actually was

56% of those surveyed said they thought email was used too often in preference to telephone or face-to-face conversation

45% of those surveyed thought their own emails were easy to read.

So how much time do you waste on emails each week?

Does your workplace have an email strategy in place to minimise work interruption?

How much are you costing your company in terms of your own email use?

Ref:

Thomas W. Jackson, Sharman Lichtenstein. Optimising e-mail communication: the impact of seminar- and computer-based training. International Journal of Internet and Enterprise Management, 2011; 7 (2): 197 DOI: 10.1504/IJIEM.2011.039915

Photo Credit: <ahref=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/48600111517@N01/3323353467/”>neilclavin</

  

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