How to use e-mail at work

​Many companies have noticed that using e-mail is inefficient. Main problems and solutions with mail are:

If the data would be in the right place, you could delete all your mails and history today and continue work without any major issues. If you cannot do it, you have started to use mail as information storage.

1. It multiplies work. When person A sends a message for 10-1000 people and that mail is containing something that needs to be saved for future usage and in many cases saved to different folder. Every message is then needing activity from the recipient and also consuming space, as every mail is copied.

-If you are noticing that you need to organize your mails, you are probably receiving information through mail that should not be sent to you by mail. The mail is not the final resting place of data, it should be stored to some other place. Mail should be used only to notify that such data exists. And in many cases it becomes unnecessary even to send the mails if such places exits.

-You can influence the amount other people need to organize mail, by not sending guides or anything that needs to be saved for future usage. Don’t send guides to 10-100 people. Write the guide and save it to Forum or some common place where guides should be. Then you could inform your group that you have writen that guide and where it is. This way they don’t have to save the mail. Also the guide can be updated. If the mail sent guide is updated, you need to send it again, and every participant need to update their saved version of your guide. If your group receives new employee, they don’t have the mail history, They are missing all the guides and mails! So it’s easy to understand that any information that is distributed through mail should not be stored in the mail. It’s old and it could have changed since. Only way to have up to date information is to have common places where the information is stored.

If someone in your group or section anyway sends guide by mail. Do NOT save the mail!, store the guide/information to some server or common place or write article to wiki and send a response that you have created a place for this data and here it is.

2. People that are not in the mail distribution have no way to follow it or find the solution afterwards. If the discussion would have happened in a Forum, the information and solution could be found with a search years from now. This is easily noticeable at the internet. If you buy a motorcycle and you notice some issue, you go to the internet and search for issue you are having. You quickly find some information and probably the solution for it. You usually find it from some forum or blog. What would have happened if that discussion would have happened in closed loops, like small mail distribution? You would not have those mails, you would not have any way to know that the discussion has happened, you would have no way to know even who has dealt with such issue. This is the way it happens inside the company. Somebody has to know who knows the solution. somebody has to have the mails saved and organized. New employee has no quick way to find information, because it’s inside the mail system and not stored properly.

3. Don’t answer to big mail distributions unless you have something to contribute.

“this has to be solved asap!” is not a contribution. Not if you are sending it to the whole distribution. If you are working as a manager that needs to focus the action, you can send it to the one person that needs the push.

4. Follow the mails you are sending and receiving and think that should they be sent by mail in the first place.

5. Create a history, with mail everyone has their own history, some people save mails and some don’t, everyone has their own history, some have organized history, and some have cluttered history. With common places to save the information and by using forums, everyone has the same history data. And also new employees can access this history data.

6. When Forums and common places for work data are established, it is much easier to substitute persons during holidays or sick leaves as the data is open.

7. Good practice is also not to use the work mail to any other activity. Create firstname.familyname@gmail.com / @outlook.com mail for your personal ‘business’ and mailing your relatives. Also create nickname@gmail.com and use it to register to all the internet services, this way if the mail address is leaked to junk email providers, you don’t get your official mails cluttered with junk and it provides better anominity.

8. Mail is a great tool for sharing information, but it should be just that. You should not store information in it. You should be able to just let the mails flow the past without deleting them. It’s possible even to set up auto deletion, that delete all the mails that are older then 1 month and you should be fine if the information is stored correctly. (Not stored in the mail, store it somewhere others can see it too).

Br James Parus

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