Email is familiar. It's comfortable. It's easy to use. And..; it might just be the biggest killer of time and productivity in the office today! Read this article to use e-mail smarter.
The statistics speak for themselves on average we spend up to 2,5 hours a day in our mailbox answering and reading up to 200 emails. Approximately 144 of them are mostly CCs and BCCs that are not even relevant to our job. (Forbes)
During one of our user-tests on common shared inboxes, we came across several signs that emailing is holding back businesses. That is why I would like to share the 5 most common things that led to time loss. And since they are so common, they might be interesting to you as well. Let’s start with email overload.
1. FWD: “FYI” causing email overload
Take a glimpse at your inbox and look at the first 10 emails, how many of them are really meant for you and how many of them do you really need to reply to? 4, 2, or even worse none. And yet these emails take up time treating them. Keeping each other in the loop is good and usually FYI-emails are well meant. Yet these emails are feeding the stress-level of your employees. Did you know that researchers have proven that an overload on emails make you sweat?
One of our respondents quoted this perfectly: “When I arrive at work and I see a mailbox with 50 email, it’s super stressful! Where to start? What’s really important in all this? It’s just too much information and I got the impression I’m downing.” Our test showed out that, the pollution of our inboxes with low value emails strongly depends on the company culture and that management has a big influence on this. Look again at your inbox, which one of those emails could have been a phone call or a quick chat?
2. Cluttered inbox and broken email chains
Looping everyone in has some side effects; someone can be using reply all, while others only reply to only one person. This same effect is caused when forwarding an email and changing the subject line. Causing two different email chains or communication flows.
While those email chains come in handy they are also offering confusion when reply to the wrong one or accidently answering twice. Gathering all information there where it’s needed it time-consuming especially when chains or emails become too long, and they could have been a meeting instead. Considering you already spend 2,5 hours reading and answering mails in your inbox some of these emails deserve some more attention to get things going faster.
3. Emails that slip through the cracks
Another side effect of these FYI’s and overload on CCs, some really useful emails slip through the cracks and opportunities get lost. There are three other main reasons for this
Unclear dispatching: An email arrives in the shared inbox, but we don’t know who is responsible for it.
Assumption: “The one responsible for it will take care of it” or “If it’s meant for me, someone will forward it to my personal inbox”
Human error: deleted too many “useless” emails or wrong dispatching and no further actions taken.
In all cases, this could be holding back your business or causing frustrations to the one sending the email. 66% of our user-test participants identify this as their biggest concern in using a shared inbox because this effects their external image.
4. Wasting time as you search for important information
Looking for the right information in emails can be time-consuming. Scrolling back in email chains to find that bit of information you need. University research showed out that we spend on average 20 minutes a day searching for lost information or lost documents. This might seem a short amount of time and yet it is slowing you down and making you a lot less productive. It increases your responding time and in most cases, it interrupts and takes your attention away from your initial goal.
Email storage is very personal; some people do it on a very structured way others use side app’s to do so while others just don’t do it. This make it even harder when working in a shared inbox. That is why many teams come up with a shared classification system where every team member stores information the same way. Simple in theory but practice showed us otherwise.
Almost all of the responders during our test mentioned that they or other team members were too lax in storing emails and documents following the procedure. “Not out of disrespect to others, but sometimes you forget or you need to act quickly and don’t have time for administration.” That is what we at Rooftop call the effect of the “clandestine passenger”.
5. Clandestine passengers
These people are people shaped out of all the signs that were mentioned above. Rules are guidelines for them, and they don’t follow them strictly. Not because they are against the rules, but because they want to offer the best customer service with the customer in mind and want to spend as little time as possible on administration. Or because they have too much workload due to an overload of emails. They are overwhelmed by their inbox and therefor prioritize their personal inbox. This clandestine passenger can be anyone: a manager, an employee even you, even while you are not doing it deliberately. In most cases, they rely on others to notify them again or to assign the tasks or emails to them giving extra work to team members which brings a lot of frustrations with it.
So how do you make it better?
Hey, mistakes get made every day and nobody is safe from an off-day. That’s why we’re here to help. Emails were made to communicate, not to collaborate. But with a little help from Rooftop your shared inbox can be a collaborative shared inbox. One that helps boosting your business instead of holding it down. Do you want to know how this software tackles the mentioned issues? Take a look below.