We all use email. It’s part of the fabric that binds the modern world together. Email has replaced slow-moving hardcopy mail, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings in many respects and that’s brilliant. We all love the convenience it brings. But email’s inherent flaws are starting to show.

The times they are a-changin’

When it comes to work email, the winds are beginning to change. Recent years have brought a flood of emails to our inboxes. Some emails concern us, and some have absolutely nothing to do with us.

Take a moment to consider all the CCs, BCCs, forwards, sales pitches, promotions, event notices, and spam you receive every day. Then pile on the emails that actually require action from you. If you’ve ever taken a few days off and returned to find 100+ emails waiting for you, you know that it can take a full day (or more) to catch up on everything. But are you ever really completely caught up?

It’s frustrating to never quite realize zero-unread-emails in your inbox—to truly catch up. Instead, it’s a stream of choppy waves constantly coming our way as we make the swim to shore.

Work hours lost in email

According to a 2012 report from Altos Origin (UK), the average employee spends 40% of their workweek on internal emails that don’t add any value for the company. That’s staggering. Emails are not only clogging inboxes, they’re clogging productivity. Our attention is overloaded and this leads to distraction.

Managing emails takes us away from other important projects and tasks. The 2010 Star Email Survey (UK) found that 19% of employees spend up to an hour each day managing emails, with 20% spending more than an hour each day. That’s equivalent to 32.5 workdays wasted per year.

Adding to the distraction of managing an inbox, we often find several versions of the same file attached in various emails with fragmented conversations. Emails flood in about changes, either already made or pending, new directions, opinions from every angle, and more and more. Toss in task lists, schedules, objectives, deadlines, company news, and the stream of other updates we receive all day, and it becomes easier to see how email can seriously drain productivity in any organization.

Reclaiming those lost hours

So how do you get those lost hours back? Let’s first start off by recognizing that email is an inefficient tool for collaborating. It’s like trying to use a screwdriver on something that requires a well-fit wrench. It should come as no surprise that the perfect tools for collaborating are collaboration tools. By design, collaboration tools were created for maximum efficiency and zero headaches. Zero confusion. Zero time wasted. Zero distractions. There’s an incredible amount of power in having zero roadblocks. We call this the Power of Zero.

Email may never disappear, nor should it. Let’s use it as intended—to send messages that don’t require an immediate response or collaboration on anyone’s part.

This blog is part of a series that illustrates the Power of Zero. Watch this space for upcoming articles on the incredible power zero can have on your organization.

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Nick Gamino

Senior Content Writer

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