The Email Spring

As the festive Yule tide tasted, we all enjoy abundant salt, sugar, fat and phosphates, fried chicken, ribs, hamburgers, ice cream, pop, pie…and email: they’ve all become embedded into our wastes and our way of life.

Trillions of emails (80% of which are junk or spam) engulf our precious time on and off the job, including after work email alerting us innocent recipients much more thought time ‘off the job’. Business is a daily war and takes one-third weaponry and two-thirds moral: shareholder value is a result of satisfying customers by a business that’s working well due to its people being on top form. In the case of VW in Germany, there was a growing litany of complaints that staff’s work and home lives were becoming blurred, so, Volkswagen agreed to stop routing emails 30 minutes after the end of employees’ shifts, and then start again 30 minutes before they return to work. Henkel implemented a similar strategy for the festivitie period. German innovation aside, are we about to witness an “Email Spring” in 2012?

Smart phones and PCs are endemic in our society and the wiz, bang, wallop world of ecommerce zips through us literally. What’s in a few company emails? Recent studies reveal that over 65% of us open work emails at home and on vacation. Understandably, workers are suffering from the ever-increasing problem of ’email stress’ as they struggle to cope with an unending onslaught of messages they feel ‘invaded’ by. This is causing employees becoming agitated and frustrated after monitoring company messages that keep interrupting them as they try to relax from work: a senior manager can spend over 4 hours per day handling email.

According to researcher, Karen Renaud of Glasgow University, “Email is an amazing tool, but it’s got out of hand. Email harries you. You want to know what’s in there, especially if it’s from a family member or friends, or your boss, so you break off what you are doing to read the email. The problem is that when you go back to what you were doing, you’ve lost your chain of thought and, of course, you are less productive. People’s brains get tired from breaking off from something every few minutes to check emails (e.g., people working on a computer can check 40–60 times an hour). The more distracted you are by distractions, including email, then you are going to be more tired and less productive.”

The NIOSH report cites that 75% believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago. No one said life was going to be easy, but people are the long-term asset value to a business. To achieve an intellectual profitable capital management program there’s a little known fact that if you can impact 10% efficiency in any aspect of your business development process you can experience up to 20% margin increase. Seizing the moment, Thierry Breton, chief executive of the French information technology services giant, Atos has recently stated that workers at his firm were “wasting hours of their lives on internal messages both at home and at work.” He is embarking on a ‘more’ radical strategy of banning internal email altogether from 2014. Less is more, but more is not less.

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Author: Dean Crutchfield

In an award-winning career spanning two decades, Dean Crutchfield has created, built and re-invigorated some of the world's most iconic brands.

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