E-Mail: Slippery Slope to Workplace Waste
Peter Coffee: It's one thing to be looking for a needle in a haystack; it's another to be looking for an abnormal piece of hay. Our overflowing e-mail in-boxes make the haystack bigger every day, without doing anything to help us focus our attentioIts one thing to be looking for a needle in a haystack; its another, far more difficult thing to be looking for an abnormal piece of hay. Our overflowing e-mail in-boxes make the haystack bigger every day, without doing anything to help us focus our attention where its needed. Sending e-mail has become the path of least resistance to what only looks like higher productivity. Why bother to lay out a Web page, or design a database query, when you can just blast out copies of a document or spreadsheet and ask for peoples replies? But this puts the onus on co-workers to figure out what they need to do, or to filter through mostly irrelevant information to find the areas where their expertise applies: Think about the total time that gets spent as a result.
Needs that ought to be met with threaded conversation forum tools, or with regularly updated intranet Web pages, are instead being poorly addressed by e-mail distribution lists. Instead of posting a document in a virtual project workspace, where every team member can see each others comments as theyre made, people are e-mailing individual copies of documents to each team member and inefficiently consolidating the replies. Wouldnt it make more sense to have a portal page listing documents needing comments, available in a shared virtual-whiteboard environment, sorted by deadline date and flagged to indicate who hasnt read them yet?