How can I develop effective email communication

How you can reduce the flood of emails in your company

Like any company, we want to develop good products and sell services. To do this, we need know-how, bright minds and team spirit - but also the opportunity to concentrate on your tasks. That is why each individual thinks about when, with whom, how and about which topic communication takes place: in person, on the phone or by e-mail, and uses all the possibilities of modern communication.

But what about in most companies? Often an email is first written without thinking about whether a short phone call might be more efficient. No wonder workers all over the world complain of a flood of emails. We don't complain. Because we don't write any more emails - at least internally. Why? Because today there are better opportunities to exchange ideas.

The curse of the flood of emails

Just 20 years ago, business letters were spoken on dictation machines, typed, copied, signed, sent and filed in multiple versions. One often had to wait several days for an answer. Hard to imagine today. So it's no wonder the email was so successful. It's fast, inexpensive, ecological and practical. But today a veritable flood of emails has become a curse in many companies:

  • Each employee receives an average of 615 e-mails per week.
  • Each employee spends 15 hours a week answering these emails.
  • Each employee looks at an email 36 times an hour.

Various studies show how inefficient communication through e-mails has become and how this disturbs the recipient's concentration. Many e-mail programs report a new message visually or by sound. With over 100 emails arriving every day, one can imagine that this distraction costs businesses billions of dollars.

Source: Atlassian study from 2016

Track down unproductive emails

Spam e-mails hardly play a role because most of the messages that land in the inbox are sent internally. They revolve around a manageable number of tasks and projects that the individual employees are working on. But when an email arrives, the recipient may be working on another topic. If the message is then needed at some point, it has to be laboriously searched for in the e-mail inbox.

However, apart from discussions and sending documents, the actual flood of e-mails in companies is mainly caused by the large number of unproductive e-mails:

  • Badly thought out recipient lists and CC mailing lists
  • Redirects that are sent "for information only"
  • Inattentiveness like "Oops, forgot attachment" or "What else I forgot to mention"

A series of e-mails could be averted by just a short personal conversation.

But be careful:

It's not just the number of emails that is constantly increasing. In addition, employees spend an average of more than 15 hours a week in meetings - two thirds of them are unnecessary, studies show. Hand on heart: how many useless meetings or telephone conferences have you already participated in today?

So it doesn't help. You need to get to the root of the problem and drastically reduce the volume of emails and meetings to improve collaboration.

Use the possibilities of modern communication instead of email

With the means of modern communication, we are always online - in the office and on the go. That offers us great opportunities - and the private sector showed us how to do it. Images and messages are shared, commented on and discussed. There is chat and video calls. How often do you still write an e-mail privately?

Just imagine if your company also had this:

  • Exchange, discuss and comment on information interactively (including inline comments and @mentions)
  • Make knowledge (protocols, Excel lists, status reports, etc.) accessible to all project members
  • Always have the latest version - but also old versions - available
  • Have discussions directly in the document
  • Queries and data exchange via individual and group chats

Here's the good news: There is. The Atlassian platform offers various tools for better collaboration. In this way, the e-mail takes a back seat on its own.

You work together on concepts, manuals, reports, press articles and a lot of other content - in parallel. Nobody has to wait until a document has been approved for editing. Changes are immediately visible to everyone. Files such as logs, status reports, calculations, images and much more are simply uploaded. Discussions can be held directly on the document or in a separate chat room. In this way, you can find all information where it is needed and at the same time reduce a large part of the flood of emails in your company.

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With Atlassian Confluence you can take full advantage of the possibilities of modern communication and at the same time reduce the flood of emails in your company.
Also read our 5 tips for beginners in Confluence.

An organized service center instead of email ping pong

IT departments have been living it for a long time: They think in a customer-oriented manner and manage inquiries via a service center system such as JIRA Service Management. This concept could also benefit other service departments such as human resources, marketing, accounting, quality management, etc., in which the e-mail inbox is filled with a wide variety of inquiries and information:

  • You keep an overview and no request is lost in your inbox.
  • Inquiries can be prioritized and forwarded to the correct processor.
  • You prevent question-and-answer ping pong when you ask for all information on a form.

Frequently recurring questions can also be included in a help center as a self-service area. You can see what these are from the daily flood of emails in your company - inquiries about current travel expense forms, vacation regulations or product brochures. Because instead of writing you an e-mail, the searching colleague can simply use the search function and voilĂ : there is the answer or the file you are looking for.

In this way, you have not only reduced your flood of emails, but have also significantly increased internal customer satisfaction.