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To limit the number of emails: a must for internal communication

Limiting the number of emails is becoming necessary, both for the wellbeing of the employees and the productivity of the company.

Ragan studied a survey from PoliteMail that analysed over 1.3 billion internal emails sent by 8.5 millions of employees globally in 2020. The conclusion was clear: the number of emails sent between employees of the same companies must be reduced.

Why is it important to limit the number of emails?

Emails take a large place in the daily operations of companies. And with the recent increase in the home office model due to the health crisis, they have proved necessary! In 2020, internal communicators have sent 72% more emails than the previous year.

However, when all the information travels by emails, that can create a paradoxical situation. The employee cannot work without his emails, but receiving too much can hinder his daily work.

Emails and tasks interruption

First of all, it disturbs his focus. Receiving emails all day can make it difficult to really dedidate his time and concentration to his tasks at hand. Even more so when he feels compelled to read them immediately, and even answer them as soon as possible. He therefore has to stop in his tracks, focus on the incoming email, and then go back to his work. The survey believes it takes 64 seconds after reading an email to get back into ones work rythm.

And as this is the case for all emails, whatever their level of importance, those interruptions happen frequently, taking up a significant part of their daily work. Indeed, it is said that en employee spends on average 28% of his weekly working time to read and answer emails.

Dealing with emails and stress management

Moreover, these high volumes of emails have another negative impact. Beyond the disruption of concentration, and therefore the decrease in productivity, it generates stress in employees. They are afraid of missing out on urgent information, or of looking less responsive and involved than their colleagues.

In order to improve their concentration level, some people choose to disable the notifications of their inboxes, and check it only once every two or three hours. That can be seen as a good idea at first. However, if this way of working is not shared among the teams, this can lead to critics from their managers for not being responsive enough.

Internal communication has a role to play in order to limit emails

Emails are also central in the internal communication field. Indeed, it has one big advantage: its ability to reach all of the connected employees immediately.

In 2020, lockdowns and remote working have brough lots of employees away from their work place. Internal communicators have massively used emails in order to keep in touch with them. According to Ragan:

  • 16 corporate emails were received per month and per employee on average 
  • The content of those emails represented around 35 minutes of reading time (with 121 links directing to other pages)
  • The employees engagement towards that media increased by 71%
  • l’engagement des salariés envers ce média a augmenté de 71 %

Employees themselves were therefore very receptive to those messages. Even though it probably impacted their productivity and wellbeing. Although internal communicators wanted to answer an urgent need (staying informed despite the distances), they have contributed to the increase of the daily load of the employees.

How can we limit the number of emails daily?

In order to relieve the employees, it is therefore important to limit emails. Both between colleages, and the ones from the internal communication department. There are several ways to acheive this, . Here are a few.

1) Limit emails in project management contexts

Dedicated applications now exist in order to simplify all the communication that is needed to execute a project. Some of them are even designed specifically for remote teams.

2) A chat app to reduce internal conversations

Within a team, chatting apps can make daily interactions much easier. It is usually possible to organise different channels within the application, which helps to structure the conversations around precise themes… Even regarding informal topics.

3) Limit the number of emails sent by the internal comms team

This aspect should be top of list when putting together the yearly communication strategy. This will ensure that other medias are being more used, like the internal app. Especially since it can allow internal communicators to reach a wider audience than emails(when employees have it on their personnal phone).

You can also rely on managers to relay information to their team. Be careful, however, to provide them with adequate tools so as not to increase the amount of emails they receive!

Finally, we would advise you to review all your different internal communication channels. If an employee is looking for information for too long, he will probably end up sending an email to his colleagues to get the answer. To have this overview, conduct the analysis from the employees’ point of view, taking into account their own usage. You will probably find new ways to optimize internal exchanges.