Sales, Marketing and Communication

If the boss sends fewer mails, the coworkers will follow

The amount of e-mail that a boss receives keep growing, and the time needed to sort, read and answer grows accordingly. Processing emails becomes a bigger and bigger part of your everyday life. Some researchers report that up to 40 % of a work day is spent on email. Forty percent!

But where do all these email come from? Who sends them? Whose fault is it? As it turns out, research now shows that it's you!

Every time you send an e-mail, the problem escalates. Luckily this also means that you can be part of the solution.

Be careful when sending email

A study published in the Harvard Business Review in 2013 (“To Reduce E-mails, Start at the Top” by Chris Brown, Andrew Killick and Karen Renaud) concludes that if we send fewer emails, we receive fewer emails. Pure logic – once you've been told!

A team of researchers examined the email habits in an 80-person large company. On average every member of the 7-person management team sent 56 emails a day. They decided to reduce the number of sent emails by 20 %.

The researchers asked the management team of the company to:

  • Think extra carefully before sending any email
  • Limit the recipients (it's almost never necessary to Cc someone)
  • Choose the most efficient form of communication (telephone, SMS, personal etc.)

The management team received weekly feedback on their progress and reduced the amount of emails sent by 54 %! Even more interesting, the employees followed – without being given similar instructions. In fact the number of emails sent by the rest of the coworkers was reduced by no less than 64 %.

For the company in question (with a total of 80 employees) it meant a reduced cost of 10.400 man-hours each year, which corresponds to a 7 % rise in productivity.

If we all send fewer emails, we get more time to do the things we like.

How to send fewer e-mails

  • Only send e-mails when it is necessary.
  • Decide by how many percent you wish to reduce the amount of emails being sent (for instance 20 % less mails).
  • Follow up every week.