We've decided to conduct an internal experiment to see what effect restricting email access will have on the business. Follow this page to see how the expirement is going.
The average human can last three days without water and I’m starting to think the same rule applies to email. It’s been four days so far and the cracks are starting to appear. Our complete embargo on emails is putting a major strain on my working day. I found the start of the week quite liberating, without the distraction of emails I could focus more on my workload but now it’s beginning to have an adverse effect.
It’s difficult to manage yourself with a complete email lock down! It’s almost impossible to remember every conversation I’ve ever had on the phone or in meeting which is where email is vital. Being able to send a follow up email after a call or meeting is absolutely essential and without this ability it’s difficult to organise yourself.
I always knew email lock down was going to be impractical. A great example is when I made an offer of employment to someone to join Yolk IT which he accepted. It was difficult to explain why he had to wait until Monday to receive a formal offer of employment by email.
There has to be a middle ground and the more I read up on similar experiments chunking appears to be the best option. Don’t get me wrong the positives of no email far outweigh the negatives but in this digital and instant world emails are an essential part of day to day communications.
Tomorrow is the final day of our experiment….wonder how it will go?
Are you guilty of any of these annoying email habits?
Mid way through the week and something interesting happened – yesterday we had our usual monthly management meeting! This kicks off at 8am and ends about 11.30am, it’s a chunky meeting and I usually come out ‘head spun’ as so much is covered off, it’s pretty intense.
Normally after it ends I spend the rest of the morning and early part of the afternoon responding to emails, I usually write off 75% of the day whenever we have a management meeting. Yesterday was different, I returned from the meeting and had no access to email so after a short briefing with my team, I got on the phones and started speaking to clients and candidates. So much more was done as a result I felt guiltily that I would normally write off most of the day.
I am fairly confident that after this week I am going to continue with this new sense of freedom, perhaps not a complete blanket shut off but my division is certainly going to restrict or limit our reliance on email.
On the flip side I missed a really important email from a key client. They needed a document sent across to them by lunch which I didn’t see. I have found that the problem with turning off your emails is that not everyone else is on the same mindset and emails are their usual form of contact.
What type of email user are you?
We have arrived at half way through day two and I have come to realise a few interesting things about myself:
Also something else happened yesterday for the first time in about 12 months – at 4.30pm I found myself wandering around the office with nothing to do!!! Well actually I had loads to do but on a normal day I categorise my workload into A tasks (urgent and important), B tasks (important but not urgent) and C tasks (generally admin). Normally I just about get through A tasks during the normal hours of the working day so I do B tasks by staying on late and then usually I stay very late later in the week to complete all my C tasks, however by being as productive as I have been I had cleared everything off my task list by 4.30pm and it left me a little dazed…..
However there are two sides to every story, confirming meetings and interview times were a massive headache and I do worry that something could have been missed that could have a financial impact…….
Our IT support contractors, Alphabyte IT have also written an article about the effect email overload has on your IT network.
Day 1 of our experiment is over and it wasn't as difficult as we first anticipated. We’ve all been in the situation where IT issues have stopped us from accessing our emails for a day, so it felt like that. The experiment continues today and as time goes on I can see it getting tougher. How many people will actually read our auto replies and ring in? We'll have to wait and see.
That being said with emails off activity was up 60% but more importantly out staff really enjoyed it and learnt a few lessons. Recruitment is a predominantly phone based job and email can be a big distraction. Not only do emails distract us but we also tend to watch them waiting for someone to get in touch making us reactive rather than proactive. With no emails it's down to you to make things happen.
There were few struggles but the only challenge we really faced was sending CVs to our clients. Sending CVs by post would have been to slow but the solution was quite simple - drop them off by hand. By delivering the CVs by hand it gave us the opportunity to learn more about our client's business and discuss the CVs in more depth.
There were a few initial debates regarding internal emails, we chose not to go down the post it note option and stick to verbal communication
We also had some great feedback and advice from people on Twitter. Joshua Lyman, someone who has blogged about email overload a lot, suggested ‘chunking’ our emails instead of just switching them off altogether. Chunking is when you have set times of the day to check emails. According to research this is the most efficient way to use email and is close to what we want to achieve after this experiment is over.
It’s lunchtime on Day One of our no emails week. It might have sounded mad when it was first suggested and I had lots of questions such as ‘why would you want to restrict our flow of information?’ But at the same time I was actually very excited by the thought of going back to the old school way of recruiting. I’ve been told by others what recruitment was like before computers. Recruitment was previously all done over phone calls and handshakes and I have wondered if I could have cut it back then - now’s my chance!
The day kicked off as normal with our morning scrums and the team were extremely excited by the challenge ahead. The moment the meeting ended I saw a huge rise in noise not just from my team but from the business as a whole. Our Monday mornings are usually spent shifting through email applications sent over the weekend but not this time, with no emails the only choice was start going through our call list.
I found myself lost a few times without email but the results speak for themselves – I arranged 3 interviews with 2 clients without sending any CVs across, without confirming via email and without wasting time doing admin. I can’t confidently say that those interviews would never had happened but I do know there would have at least a day or two delay before booking them if I had access to my emails.
I sneakily checked my emails just before lunch (I know it’s cheating) and there were 30 unread emails only one that I would classify as urgent, the rest would have no doubt slowed down my productivity with little return on investment.
The experiment continues…..
Come back later in the week to see how Yolk is surving without email for a week.