Research Reveals the Worst Email Sins

Email gets a bit of a bad rap in many discussions around corporate communications.  It’s regarded as a bit of a dinosaur in a world of virtual collaboration via enterprise social networks and internal idea jams.  Many have jumped on the bandwagon and vowed to go on an email detox, if not abandon email altogether.

Suffice to say, for the majority of employees, however, email remains a vital piece of their communication armoury, and is used an awful lot each and every day.  That isn’t to say, of course, that our use of email can’t be improved, as was highlighted by a recent study from Dr Emma Russell, a researcher at Kingston University, which revealed some of the worst email faux pas.

“Back in the dial-up era, when going online had a cost implication, most people checked email maybe once a day and often responded to mails as soon as they read them. Now with broadband and 3G, unlimited numbers of messages can be streamed to you via your smartphone at any time of the day or night. However many of us haven’t adapted our behaviour to what can seem like a constant stream of mails,” Russell explained.

This has led to a number of issues around email usage, such as our ready willingness to answer emails whilst on holiday, in the bathroom, even whilst in bed with our partner.  The ability to switch off from work has become significantly harder.  Alas, that would appear at the milder end of things.

“Some workers became so obsessed by email that they even reported experiencing so-called ‘phantom alerts’ where they think their phone has vibrated or bleeped with an incoming email when in fact it has not. Others said they felt they needed to physically hold their smartphone when they were not at their desk so that they were in constant email contact.” Russell rather depressingly revealed.

Her exploration of corporate email usage, in an admittedly limited sample, revealed seven distinct ’sins’ that are commonly used and which contribute enormously to the bad reputation email has built up.  Have a look at them below and see how many you ’commit’.

The seven deadly sins of email

  1.       Email ping pong, which usually results in an endless chain of email (most of which isn’t neccessary)
  2.       Sending email outside of office hours, which contributes to a viscious circle where you have to respond or risk looking         slack next to your peers
  3.       Emailing whilst in the company of others, which requires no explanation.  Cardinal sin.
  4.       Ignoring emails completely.
  5.       Requesting read receipts when you send an email, which is probably in response to #4.
  6.       Responding straight away to an email alert.
  7.       Automated replies.

Do you recognise any of these from your own organisation (or indeed your own email habits)?  I’m sure for many of you this list has uncovered some common annoyances.

Would you add any more to the list?  Are there any email habits that drive you round the bend?  I’d love to hear your personal pet hates in the comments below.

Image source: Law Actually




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