Don’t know about you, but some of those jokes on Facebook contrasting life pre-technology and life these days do amuse me. I’m looking at one that has a thin chap and a fat cathode-ray TV, labelled ‘TV watching 1990’ and a very fat character and a super-thin display for the 2015 version.
Joking aside, a lot of these themes have an underlying serious point. They ask us to look with a bit of scepticism about how deeply smartphones and always-on connectivity have penetrated our daily and family lives. There may be some rose-tinted thinking here – was life really that much better in 1970s Britain, after all? But at the same time, perhaps we need to take a step back sometimes from the devil’s bargain we’ve made with technology.
Take email. Simultaneously the most efficient and ubiquitous business communication method and also one of the most time and productivity-destructive weapons of mass ‘distraction’ ever invented!
I can’t be the only one who sometimes wonders, Do I go to the office to work, or to just tend my in-box?
Remarks to this end recently made by a distinguished UK psychologist and academic, Sir Cary Cooper, struck home for many of us. A few weeks back, he warned the British Psychological Society’s annual conference that employers have to start tackling what he labelled as an “epidemic” of staff checking work emails out of hours.
Why? Because, in his view, the “compulsion” to deal with emails as soon as they arrive in your in-box may be a real factor in the productivity gap we’re getting more and more conscious about in the UK: “For people to be working at night, weekends and holiday on emails is not good for the health of our country.”
Cooper, who has in the past advised the government about mental health in the workplace, later expanded his warning to a BBC reporter : “Every organisation has to come to a conclusion as to what is a good way to be operating, and the best way to do that is by asking the employees themselves how do we stop this epidemic of us being linked all the time to our emails”. He then goes on to decry what he sees as a development of a macho work culture in the UK in which staff want to be seen to be available by email at all hours – a culture he thinks is causing stress and depression, and in turn making workers less efficient.
Getting email under control
But what can be done about it? Here at EASY Software UK, we believe that email needs to be properly managed. We do that for organisations through a process of re-prioritising the document instead of all these endless email threads that don’t support enough proper business focus any more. Instead, we work with teams to make email archival and retrieval as efficient and friction-free as possible, as we think this is the way to encourage proper management of all the information flowing through your business process and workflows.
It’s accepted wisdom that documents need to be properly managed. Email clearly needs to be subject to the same discipline.
A possible note for your diary
We’ve supported great things like World Paper Free Day in the past here on the DMcollaborators. I’m now starting to wonder if we might not start a campaign for the near future devoted to World Email Free Day?
Would you sign up? I know we would – as would Sir Cary!