Email has gotten out of control.
Your employees are spending up to half of their day on it.
What can we do to bring this productivity monster under control?
(Hint: We may have to go rogue on this one.)
Email Has Taken Over
Email is here to stay.
Despite our best efforts, it isn’t going anywhere.
Like the fax machine, we will still be using it in the year 2491.
I previously spelled out TMN’s 9 Laws of Work Email.
Today, I want to propose some radial ways to think differently about email.
After all, email has been superseded by new social tools and communications but it still seems to be stuck, well, in the 90s. (Not to say that there aren’t some positive email uses.)
So, how can we radically change corporate email to restore productivity to our workplace?
I have proposed 9 “rules” below to do just that. However, I want to preface them with the idea that they do not have to be hard and fast limits. Especially, if that helps us leave our comfort zones…
In fact, maybe emails should be flagged based on policy and reviewed similarly to expense report violations.
“Which costs a company more… a lunch expense overage or a rogue email that calls a meeting with 11 people?”
So, if we want to radically change email and how it works… what should we do?
9 Rogue Corporate Email Rules
Email is a sacred cow.
Some people love it. Especially those who abuse it.
However, here are some tough ideas on how to challenge email’s power in the workplace…
9 Rogue Rules to Fix Corporate Email
- Timed Deliveries – People need to stop thinking of email as instantaneous. We cannot expect our employees to sit at their desk waiting for emails to arrive and immediately act upon them. Let’s limit delivery of email. If email is the new snail mail, maybe it should only be delivered once a day at a preset time. This would reset people’s expectation that others are going to read their email within minutes.
- Limited Distribution – Set up corporate email accounts so that they can’t copy more than 3 people per message. Perhaps, vary this limit based upon position or seniority.
- AutoClose Email Clients – Corporate IT seems to want to “auto do” all kinds of other things to our machines. Why not auto-close email clients after a few minutes of inactivity? (They could even call it a security measure.) This would eliminate unneeded email alerts and interruptions.
- Limit Message Length – There is no need for a 3 page email. Just like Twitter, we need a strict character (or word) limit on our work emails. Maybe a 100 words per message.
- Mandatory Spell Check – The fact that you wrote an email on your phone 15 seconds before walking into your lunch date doesn’t mean that others should have to slog through a poorly written message. Make spelling and grammar checks mandatory before messages can be sent.
- No Signatures – We don’t need your contact information in every single email you send. Nor do we need to give out our contact info to every single person we email. Remove this functionality. If email messages are employees’ Rolodexes then it might be time for remedial organization training.
- Black Out Hours – Turn off email delivery during weekends, holidays, and off hours. Employees can write email during off time, but they get queued until after the black out time. See Rule #1.
- No Same Day Meeting Invites – Nothing is more disruptive that last-minute meeting invites. Companies should set their own minimum interval. One day notice? Perhaps, two or three.
- Limit the # of Emails – Simply put, limit the # of emails that an employee can send in a day. (I once got 200 emails from one person in a day.) This would stop the email pushers and those who shuffle emails instead of doing actual work. There would literally be a few people who wouldn’t know what to do with their day!
Rogue or Right On?
Some of these may seem extreme.
Are they too radical? Or are we just clinging to our comfort zones?
Some companies are eliminating email altogether.
You have to wonder why we spend so much time on it.
So, let’s close the email and get some work done.
Is email a time waster in your company? How would your fix it?