One of the most discussed topics at #SWCONF this week was that everyone collectively hated email. Inboxes are flooded with questions whose answers can be found elsewhere. People are all too quick to hit “reply all” or CC unnecessary parties, just because they are not sure who should be receiving the message, or they don’t know who to ask for help. With email seeming like a crutch that we lean on too much, is it possible that it could possibly go extinct?
In his blog StopThinkSocial, David Christopher predicted the end of email by 2018. He notes the following:
According to the Radicati Group, the average corporate user sends and receives 110 emails a day. If we say it takes on average 90 seconds to either read or write an email, that equates to 2 hours 45 mins a day or nearly 14 hours a week on email.
That’s a lot of wasted time.
Some workers have gotten so frustrated with email that they often aspire to reach “Inbox Zero.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: seeing a comforting 0 right on your main inbox. It’s such a difficult task that Merlin Mann is writing a book called “Inbox Zero.” (You can follow his chronicles writing the book on Tumblr.)
If we are to survive without email, we must find another tool to use. Going back to David Christopher, he pointed out an interesting rule while speaking at SWCONF that his company follows. If somebody asks a question in email, it is never to be answered in email. Instead, the answer is posted on a social network so that anyone else with the same question can look up the answer for themselves. (This follows the old adage that if one student in class raises her hand to ask a question, chances are that many other people had the same question but didn’t want to speak up.) HREOnline conducted a survey with over 1,400 Chief Information Officers, and more than half of them said that “real time” communication tools like instant messenger or Yammer will become more popular in the workplace than email within the next five years.
What do you think? Can your workplace give up email? How far away in the future is the extinction of workplace email?