Hiri Takes On the Challenge of Reinventing Email

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2016-07-14 Print this article Print

While today most of us jump at our email alert chime like so many Pavlovian dogs, Hiri separates emails in this way so it's immediately clear whether you really do need to deal with something or it's information you can get to on your own time.

Well, immediately isn't completely accurate, either.

Power has a long list of email stats (compiled by Thomas Jackson, a professor at Loughborough University who's a board advisor for Hiri), including that the average user checks his email every 5 minutes and receives around 100 emails a day, which means potentially 100 interruptions a day. Consider, too, that it takes most people 2 minutes to recover from an interruption and get their thoughts back on track, which means 3 minutes of solid work before they're interrupted again.

Plus, on 16 percent of these emails a user is copied unnecessarily, 13 percent are irrelevant or untargeted, 41 percent are for informational purposes only, and 65 percent fail to give enough information for a recipient to act on.

According to Jackson, only about 10 percent of emails need to be directly addressed.

Hiri's fix is to suggest that users only check in once every 30 minutes—versus the 96 times a day, or every 5 minutes, that's the average. Check in too early, and you see a countdown clock on your dashboard, showing how many minutes you have left. Importantly, the "you've got mail" chime is silent during these 30 minutes; Hiri will only sound to alert a user to a meeting.

The clock can be bypassed easily—and certainly there are some jobs that this feature isn't right for, such as customer support. For the rest of us, the goal is to break us of the habit of constantly glancing and to keep us focused—an action with an attached ROI.

If a company has a few hundred employees, and each of them spends 30 minutes less a day on email and instead focus on work, "that's a few million euro a year," said Power.

Also tied into ROI is a user report. When you send an email, others can rate it, giving it a thumbs up or down in terms of clarity, length, appropriateness and other factors. The ratings are anonymized and contribute to a user's score, along with habits, like how frequently they check their mail. (The score is reset to 100 percent every two weeks, so no one feels too dejected.)

Currently, Hiri is in the early days, with a few large companies committed to trialing it.

Basically, said Power, "We want to save people time, improve their day and improve their communications."


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