In this blog, we’re going to take a look at email and the impact it has on business productivity. But email is only one possible area where you can improve the productivity of you, your individual staff, and whole teams. We’ve been sold email as something that makes our lives more efficient, helps us manage our time, makes us more efficient, and saves costs.

So for the purposes of this blog, we’re going to single out email and look at the pros and cons of this communications platform.

First though, some interesting stats…

  • Emails sent per day in 2020: 306.4 billion
  • Emails opened on mobile devices: 55%
  • Spam Email: 55%
  • Emails send and received by office workers per day (on average): 121

That’s a lot of traffic right?

Let’s take a look at some of the pros of email.

  • First of all, let’s face it, email is convenient. We can access our email in our office and on the go on our phone or tablet, anywhere there’s a signal, which is virtually everywhere. That’s got to be good for keeping in touch and being able to respond to a client quickly. And that means that you can provide a faster, more effective customer experience.
  • Secondly, being able to access your email means that you can respond to customer queries and conversations, ask quick questions and communicate instantly with the people you need to communicate with. A few words here and there and you save on lengthy periods away from your desk, and your workflow can continue unabated.
  • Next, there’s the cost. It’s free. No need to print on paper put it in an envelope, and add a stamp. And no post room required if email is your main form of communication. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to encourage communication electronically using several media, including email.

So in our digital world, you are always connected. You can be reached anywhere, and you can reach anyone you need to anytime.

That’s got to be good for business productivity right?

Or is it?

Think about that statistic- the average number of emails sent and received everyday by office workers. 121. During an 8 hour day, that’s 1 a minute.

OK let’s not pretend that there aren’t some communications roles that require sending and receiving emails as part of the job. But even if that’s the case, it’s still a pretty high average.

Think about your own email habits and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I really need to send and receive all of the emails that I do during the day?
  • Can I get out of the habit of 1-word answers? “Thanks” or “no worries” or “see you then”?
  • Do I email watch? (A bit like waiting for the kettle to boils or the phone to ring)
  • Do I fiddle with devices waiting for an “important” email to arrive?
  • How much time does email take up every day, and how is this spread out over the whole day?

There are bound to be lots of other questions you could ask yourself about your email habits- like how long are you awake for before you check in the morning.

Now think about whether sending and receiving emails is distracting you from your current task or job, and ask yourself what impact that could be having on your business productivity. Here’s the rub. Are all those emails and that time taken away from your actual task or job business-critical, or could it wait until later?

And if you actually completed that task uninterrupted, how long would it take you, and would the quality of what you’re doing actually improve?

Right there you have the possibility to make real change to your working practices to improve your business productivity.

At this point, we should say that this same concept and questioning can apply to any number of distractions. Mobile phones, apps, and tech that command your attention, disturbances from colleagues, text messages, social media, the list goes on…

If email affects your own productivity, what is the cumulative effect on your whole team going to be? And what if they’re emailing each other as well? Email has, without doubt, improved the speed and cost with which we can communicate.

But what are the good habits that allow us to achieve the benefit? And how do we embed those habits in ourselves and our teams?

The answers are likely to be particular to your business, the individuals in your business and their roles, and the level of complexity of their day-to-day tasks. That said, concentrating on one job and completing that before moving onto another is a good place to start.

Our Top 3 Tips for Good Email Discipline and Improved Business Productivity

1. Don’t have your email client open on your computer, and put your phone, on silent, in a drawer.

A really basic technique, but you’ll remove the distraction from your immediate self and be able to concentrate on the task at hand without any bleeping and whirring

2. Set yourself times of day to send and receive emails. Whatever works for you.

With only a few hours between times, you’re not going to miss much, and your need to send and receive emails is catered for.

3. Set up an autoresponder

This shows that you care, you have responded to an email immediately without distracting yourself. Include something like “I respond to all emails within 24 hours”, or “I answer emails between 10-11 am every day”. Whatever works for you. Without being distracted you have managed the expectation of the sender by explaining when they can expect a response, and shown them the discipline that you are using.

You’ve put up the proverbial ‘do not disturb’ sign in a professional, friendly way so that you can get on with your task without distraction.

What about Business Productivity in Teams?

Instilling this level of discipline in teams is, naturally, going to be more difficult. You have many more moving parts, and helping individuals to learn this mindset as part of a collective will test you. Your team will be constructed with different personalities, levels of skill, differing skillsets, and ability to make changes…

But if the end result for just you means that you are more productive, that’s going to be multiplied many times over with a team.

is email the enemy of business productivity

Business Investment, Business Productivity, and Maths

The question is, how do you measure your investment in improving your business productivity? You can, of course, measure time savings as a starting point.

Take a look at this simple example:

  • Let’s base our salary on £25,000 pa. We won’t add any on costs for the business, just the £25k.
  • That’s a weekly salary of £480. So £96 per day assuming a 5-day working week, and £12 per hour.
  • Could you realistically save 1 hour per day by embedding good email discipline in your staff? Let’s say that you can.
  • Assuming you give 4 weeks holiday per year, your member of staff has released £2,880 worth of time in 1 year. Simply multiply that by the number of people in your team.

You can test this idea by trialling it on yourself, or perhaps a trusted member or two of your team.

Consider what you could do with the additional time you have available in your business, whether tasks can be completed to a higher standard, and what additional value you can offer your clients, not to mention increased sales.

It’s easy to think that the investment in training or coaching is a lot of money but think of it as an investment in your business. Then consider the return on your investment based on your simple calculations and what that could ultimately mean to your productivity and profitability.

Once you have reached your conclusions, do you think that email is the enemy of business productivity or a badly utilised vital communications tool?

To find out more about our business coaching and mentoring, and how we can help your business improve its business productivity get in touch!