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Electronic mail, productivity’s “false friend”

Posted by Rocío Sanguino on Nov 30, 2016 12:54:50 PM

The business world has no other option but to continually reinvent itself in order to survive in an environment under constant evolution and change. What today makes a company achieve positions of leadership, has become obsolete by the following day, and so on and so forth.

Technology is an important support factor enabling businesses to become ‘chameleon-like’ in their search for sufficient efficacy and productivity to help them gain competitive positions in the market.

Electronic mail is a tool that has become commonplace in both work and home environments.

But… is it a really productive system or is it an example of an obsolete mechanism?

Let’s take a quick look to see which communication channels were viewed as solutions until they became a problem.

Some 35 years ago the main task of a busy executive was to receive an average of 20 telephone calls per day, that is, some 5000 calls a year.

In an effort to reduce this problem, the answering machine appeared on the scene, allowing voice messages to be recorded. This system then evolved to allow a text message to be automatically generated from a voicemail, enabling the recipient to get the message through two channels.

This means of communication became so useful that it was used everywhere. The cost of messages dropped, causing the number of messages to rise up to 10,000 per year.

The current means of communication (mobile phone, email, SMS, WhatsAPP, etc.) arrived later, reducing the cost of communication even further, but increasing the impact to 50,000 per year.

From among all the aforementioned channels, we wish to highlight the role played nowadays by electronic mail in the business world. The following figures prove it is a system which businesses must analyse in order to ascertain whether it really helps them or whether, on the contrary, it reduces productivity.

A number of studies have yielded the following data:

  • Some executives spend an average of 11 hours replying to electronic mails.
  • Employees invest over 15% of their working day in administrative tasks, of which emails represent a large share.

correo electrónico.jpg

The aim here is not to question whether or not electronic mail is a good tool. The question is whether or not we are using it in a proper and strategic manner.  

If we subtract from the working day the time spent reviewing electronic mails and time spent in meetings, we are left with less than 6.5 uninterrupted working hours per week.

A study carried out by the University of California in collaboration with Microsoft Research and MIT, indicates that the longer one spends reviewing emails, the less productive one is and the higher the stress levels, as the receipt of emails is often associated with excess workload.

At SilverStorm we apply the following key principle: “to optimise processes, we must first analyse them”. From this analysis we are able to extract the steps to guide our daily workload and ensure that the company’s global objectives are in line with the objectives of one’s specific job and, therefore, with the service provided to the company.

When we analyse internal and external means of communication, a number of problems are detected in our companies:

  • Lack of visibility and traceability of work status.
  • Departments are involved in certain tasks which do not pertain to them.
  • A loss of emails ensues as a result of excess communication through this means.
  • Emails do not allow processes or results from actions or the scale thereof to be measured.
  • It hinders the identification of bottlenecks and other inefficiencies.
  • It generates dependency on individuals during holidays, sick leave, rotas, etc.
  • Errors can be committed in knowledge transfer.
  • Wastes time which should be used for strategic tasks.

In order to remove the problems detected, alternatives and state-of-the-art technologies must be found which, albeit not reinventing anything, help to optimise business processes.

ServiceNow is a business process management tool which brings together all communication systems on one single platform. All resources are thus optimised and centralised. The knowledge base and the chat features have proven particularly useful when working in a collaborative way with the rest of the team, helping to increase productivity and efficacy when addressing all manner of issues.

The benefits obtained by applying best practices in knowledge management and communication are:

  • Allows users to process certain queries with more speed and flexibility.
  • Uses a knowledge base into which employees input key data, helping colleagues to solve problems or settle doubts.
  • Knowledge base gradually increased, removing incidents or problems even before they are generated.
  • Dependency among people is reduced.
  • Reduced flows of calls and emails, reducing stress and work overloads.
  • The use of chats or information systems in real time leads to more concise messages being sent which only contain what is truly important.

Businesses that use tools such as ServiceNow reduce the volume of electronic mails by up to 80%, which translates into an almost immediate two point increase in customer satisfaction”, said Pedro Ligero in his last interview for ComputerWorld.

For this reason, we must consider: are we really working the right way?

If you wish to know more about collaborative tools that help you work in a more productive way, please do not hesitate to contact us so that we can analyse and define actions designed to generate a more productive and profitable service.

Topics: Business, email, businesses, electronic mail, productivity, communication, communication channels, executives

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