(This post follows on from AC’s previous post on Email Overload).
It has recently been reported that France had banned work emails after 6pm in an effort to stop working life intruding into personal life. Whilst this turned out to be not entirely true, (a labour agreement was signed to protect people working in the digital and consultancy sectors from work email outside office hours, but no times have been mentioned and nothing has been made law) it certainly is one way of dealing with the email overload which seems to face us all daily.
Banning work emails out of hours would not necessarily work within an organisation like ours, which is spread out in terms of both locations and working hours, because this makes face-to-face meetings very difficult. In the workshop we attended at the PUPSMD away day we discussed the possibility of using the telephone instead of emailing, especially for conversations which do not need written evidence, but again this can be made difficult by the fact that many staff within our organisation will work across many different locations. Some people also find phoning to be more intrusive than emailing, because it has to be dealt with straight away rather than picked up whenever you have the time to check your emails.
I think that the best way to reduce the amount of emails we send and receive would be to establish an agreed upon protocol for how we manage communication within the organisation. Replies of “thanks” in response to other emails are unnecessary for example, and would be unrequired under this etiquette, and guidelines would be set out for who should be cc’d into messages, an outline of hours in which you should send messages, and also guidelines of when email or phone would be more appropriate. This would be a big change to implement at first, as it would require a complete change to our current working culture, but if such a protocol were implemented it should go some way to helping us deal with the onslaught of emails we face every morning.