Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Email Overload

Young man making phone call with message icons

As a necessary evil, many office workers struggle to keep up with the vast amounts of information that flow through their email inbox. Recent studies suggest that up to 28% of an employee’s time is devoted to reading and writing emails, seriously hampering productivity.

With that in mind, many enterprises are beginning to explore more efficient methods of communication. Obvious choices like phone calls or physical meetings still exist, but technology has enabled a new breed of digital information sharing. In 2011, French IT company Atos garnered worldwide attention when it banned employees from sending emails. The move baffled industry observers at the time, but management reasoned that the policy was necessary after an internal survey showed only 20 out of every 200 emails were important. Four years later, their alternative communications platform (called blueKiwi) has 74,000 users worldwide and improved customer service response rates by an estimated 30 percent.

Other business leaders have taken smaller steps to provide their employees options for sending and receiving work tasks. Almost everyone retains email because they need an easy and straightforward mechanism for communicating with external parties, but within teams there’s a trend of people using chat applications or shared virtual environments.

Web conferencing programs are also gaining speed in the hunt for email alternatives, filling the niche that text based communications overlook. “You can convey in a remote virtual meeting more information, emotional impact, and visual complexity, much more easily than in a string of text messages or instant messages,” Adam Preset, analyst at Gartner Inc. said. “That’s very valuable, because these tools make it so you don’t have to context switch. It’s all right there.”

Even as these new forms of information sharing take hold, some things remain the same. Emails have long been considered official corporate records, with legal admissibility and regulatory oversight. During this period of technological change, questions about whether text messages and other alternatives are subject to the same rules have risen; but legal experts have unanimously confirmed that they are. Organizations need to adapt their records storage and information management plans to change with this new reality, as future audiovisual recordings or digital text may be called upon for important investigations. The same retention guidelines and handling advice still apply to these new records as they disrupt the definition of collaboration.

Email alternatives show great promise, but caution is urged when embracing the newest workplace productivity strategies. If you have questions or concerns about what needs to be stored and how to make sure that adequate records are maintained, contact us and one of our experts will be happy to consult with you!


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