Opinion

Don't let email become your ball and chain

5 min read

15 October 2015

The UK is not as productive as it could be. An addiction to email isn't helping. Howard Frear explains why you must not let email become your business ball and chain.

We are not as productive as we could be in this country. According to an Office for National Statistics report, the UK has the second-lowest rate of productivity outside of the leading nations – leaving us lagging behind our European counterparts Germany, France and Italy.

Better training and more industry investment may improve the problem. But one of the biggest strangleholds appears to be the habit in the UK of mixing business with pleasure and the so called “email epidemic” that is harming business in the UK, where employees insist on checking work emails day and night.

Email addiction

u2028Email is an essential business tool today, but not all of what is sent or received is either necessary or of interest. We are suffering from email overload and waste time reading and deleting emails, instead of concentrating on the project in-hand. 

Time spent reviewing and composing emails is time spent not working on creating and producing for the business. Tending to the inbox can become practically a full-time occupation if you let it!

Email overload

Should we be overly worried about the blight of email in UK business? Very definitely according to Sir Cary Cooper, psychologist and professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster Management School. In his keynote to the British Psychological Society annual conference he focused on how email is killing UK productivity.

Cooper said he was concerned about employees checking email outside working hours, saying it was detrimental to health and well-being, as well as having a huge impact on employee productivity. He said that employees were being duped into the fact that writing and answering endless emails was work and felt a “compulsion” to answer them as soon as they came into their inbox.

Cooper argues that a flood of unnecessary emails is contributing in the UK to long working hours, administration overload and a dramatic drop in productivity.

Making email work

u2028So what is the answer? Email plays such a key role in daily business communications you can’t simply ban it. It is all about proper management of email.

Businesses need to make sure that email archival and retrieval is as efficient as possible. By doing this they will see successful management of data contained in their business’ process and workflow. Basically business needs to become as good at managing email as it does other forms of documents and put the right procedures in place to do this.

Read tips about how to manage email more effectively:

Email servers were never meant to be virtual store rooms for mountains of emails. By going down this route the control of data is moved away from the business, and without the right control measures in place it is difficult to meet legal compliancy which could lead to hefty e-discovery and disclosure costs. An email archiving solution will put you back in the data management driving seat.

When it comes to compliance, transparent archiving of mailboxes, defining of archive folders and the scheduled processing of e-mail messages are all features you should definitely consider adopting. Also look at concurrent searches in archived and on-archived e-mail messages as well as multiple archive mailboxes.

Back in 2009, AIIM, the global community of information management specialists, found that enterprises cited the sheer overload of email as being the biggest problem with the business tool. Organisations were unsure or unclear on how to approach email management. 

Zip forward six years and very little has changed. Businesses need to make completing an enterprise-wide email management initiative a priority if they are to be released from the strangle-hold email has on them and see a return to higher productivity levels.

Howard Frear is sales and marketing director at EASY Software.