It can feel easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of your inbox. All workers know how stressful the burden of email can be: a constant feed of crucial information, indiscriminate ‘reply alls’, and completely irrelevant spam. But how could things be different?
New, rapidly growing Instant Messaging technologies like Slack, Skype for Business, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are looking to make email stress a thing of the past, boosting business productivity in the process. We’ll take a look at 4 email-based stats to test out whether Instant Messaging will ever topple email in the workplace.
1. The average office worker deals with 122 business emails from the company account every day.
This stark statistic will ring true to a lot of readers, and reveals one of the big problems with email as a business communication. Of these 122 emails, a handful will no doubt be essential, but a substantial amount of them will be distractions that risk crowding the important communications out: agreement, reply-alls, off-hand queries, and so on. Yet they all receive the same level of importance: “1 new message”.
A 2015 study conducted by Yahoo and the University of Southern California found that email response rates drop to less than 5% once email inboxes snowball to over 100 messages a day. It’s this level of potential oversight that business messaging can address.
Business messaging uses team-based, group and chat functions to establish different spaces for communications to take place in. All messages are stored and can still be accessed with the speed and ease of email, but, unlike email, users can direct communications to relevant conversations as necessary. Business messaging could be restricted to queries around a particular topic, or for simple questions and confirmations, to ease up traffic, clutter and confusion in email accounts.
2. Instant messaging has overtaken email as the most used form of communication.
The huge popularity of Instant Messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger shows that messaging technology has already started moving us away from email. Last year, Juniper Research found that 43 trillion instant messages were sent compared with 35 trillion emails.
While this does not mean the end of email, it does show that we can take it for granted that large proportions of the workforce will be used to instant messaging as a means of communicating. Using communications that workers already use in their personal life can drive productivity: 78% of millennials see their productivity improved when they use communications technologies they already like. Implementing business messaging with your company’s operations can be a good way to get the most out of your younger workers.
3. The number of remote workers in the UK has increased by 20% since 2008, and is continuing to grow
The UK is not alone in seeing an increase in remote workers: all over the world, employment is operating on a more casual project-by-project basis and increasing numbers of remote and freelance workers show it. A global workforce is being mobilized by remote working opportunities, companies are seeking out freelancers for specific solutions, and gig economy models are used to give workers entrepreneurial flexibility.
As companies increasingly link into the world of remote work, it becomes more complicated to ensure that new or returning workers are kept in-the-loop with new developments on projects or within the company. Lengthy emails or dossiers describing the current state of affairs are hard to produce, hard to process, and unrepresentative of how working life unfolds. With business messaging in place, freelancers are free to review group conversations at their own pace, seeing developments as they happened while getting up to speed on company dynamics.
4. Email is almost 50 years old.
For something that feels like a defining characteristic of the modern workplace, it can seem strange that the first email was sent in 1971. Although it had to be printed out as there were no monitors, the program used to send a message to a colleague via ARPANET by Ray Tomlinson is recognisably still at the heart of modern business email communications.
Tomlinson was tinkering around during company hours when he came up with email. The experimental, haphazard aspects of email’s origins survived as it developed into what it is today. Competing interests from the worlds of business, advertising, tech optimism, and pure innovation all added different inflections to what emails meant. The formalities of letter writing also lived on in email, even as formal letters’ dominance over communication was toppled.
The confused history of email and its uses are in some ways responsible for the inefficiency of the form today. Important information is often buried within endless threads of irrelevant information. Business messaging uses our familiarity with the informality of text messaging and instant messaging to speed up communications and help us communicate essential information.
So is it all over for email?
There’s no need for companies to deactivate email accounts: email’s potential for easy, private, and efficient communication makes it hard to see how it could lose its hold on the world of work. What business messaging can do is avoid email’s potential congestion and inefficiency, allowing workers to rediscover all the good things about it.
By integrating new business messaging solutions with email, workplace communications can only work better. To learn ways to make this kind of integration happen for your business, register for the Digital Telecoms Transformation Forum for free: industry-leading speakers and roundtable discussions will show you how to bring digital telecoms transformation to your network.