Tuesday, January 22, 2013

8 reasons not to use email at work

After many years of working for a variety of companies, ranging from large corporations to small tech start-ups I have come to thoroughly dislike email.

However, I cant really blame email. I believe the problem lies with the IT departments of companies, organizations and institutions that are determined on using the 40 year old technology of  'email' for a job it was never really intended. And it's not as though email plays a minor role - it's pretty much at the core of all internal communication across entire organizations.

So, here are my 8 reasons why email should definitely not be used as an 'internal' team communication tool, and generally avoided as an external communication tool:

  1. Email is unsafe - have you ever emailed the wrong John Smith? What are the consequences of accidentally sending confidential documents externally to the wrong recipient?
  2. Email reduces productivity - how often do you receive time-wasting company emails that are completely unrelated to your actual work?
  3. Email encourages bad habits - attaching files is almost never a good way to share information as you immediately loose the ability to manage versions or control access.
  4. Email is irreversible - once an email or attachment has been sent, it almost always stays sent.
  5. Email is distracting - have you ever felt that you spend more time reading and responding to endless emails than your actual job?
  6. Email is clumsy - organizing and filtering emails is a primitive and error-prone process that requires continuous effort.
  7. Email can destroy team spirit - by encouraging back-covering and selfish behaviour due to impersonal communication.
  8. Email is uncertain - somebody changes their job and suddenly you have no way to get in touch.
So there it is - eight very good reasons not to use email as an internal team communication tool and to look for something that is designed to do the job - and there are many great alternatives available.

However, email IS a brilliant technology and I imagine we will be using email for a very long time to come - It is simply not the right technology for work groups and internal team communication.

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