Buried by Mail

In this week’s blog I’ll be finding, locating and analyzing three articles from the websites Mashable, Social Media Eplorer, and Tech Crunch. I’ll be honest, I had a bit of a difficult time finding three articles I could link together. Once I moved out of the frame of mind of finding three articles that linked obviously together, it became a much easier task.

I decided to start with my SME article, and work from there. The article I chose was Becoming a Social Business isn’t just for Social Media by Ilana Rabinowitz. It discusses the concept of how business culture is affected within a social media world – social media has altered communication within business culture. In today’s world, employees expect faster response time to communication, and it has turned communication into a ‘web’ function within today’s successful businesses. Communication is key, and social media eases that need for quick, real time communication.

But what does this social media approach to business culture mean for today’s employees? Even if we rule out Twitter or Facebook or any of the large social connection websites and just focus on e-mail. Some people feel e-mail is passe. It’s today’s ‘snail mail’ because why e-mail when you can tweet or text? But e-mail in today’s business holds weight. It sits in your inbox, confronting you each time you log in – unlike tweets that disappear down your timeline or texts that are meaningless reminders unless you recheck it.

My approach to e-mail is simple. I’m not an e-mail hoarder – which I think is probably a large issue in today’s world. I get an e-mail – read it and I either respond right away and delete or move it into the appropriate folder if it needs to be archived. If it’s a task I need to finish – I leave it in my inbox, a reminder every time I log in – these are the tasks you have not finished yet.

But it’s a source of stress. And today’s business people answer on average 112 e-mails a day, according to E-mail: it’s a love/hate thing by Sam Laird. It’s not about the volume of e-mails – it’s about the time taken to reply. Tone is vitally important in e-mails or any written communication. Things get misinterpreted, misconstrued, and skimmed. Clarity is an important factor in business communication and if today’s employee’s are out of practice with clear, concise business writing – thanks to overuse of sites where brevity is valued – the time they spend composing more important e-mails can eat up their day and be a source of high stress levels.

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I find the statistic that most employees feel stressed after 50 e-mails interesting, because the average means that employees today are performing under a feeling of twice the allowable stress limit – which has to be affecting their performance. Mashable’s tips for coping with the stress are actually rather smart – to set times to check e-mails, and turn off notifications. I’m not sure how effective recommending phone calls instead would be – especially with young employees today. More and more I am noticing a trend personally in young people – a phone-phobia if you will. Phone conversations make them anxious and nervous, because they grew up in a world of texts and e-mails – it’s not a skill they’ve honed, when it really should be.

E-mail programs are making organization within your inbox easier and easier – so one doesn’t check their e-mail and feel buried by hundreds of e-mails, simply sitting there – potentially unresolved. Outlook has always been a leader in that instance – with easy folder organization, threaded discussions so you can easily find previous points in discussion to refer back to. Up until recently – Opera’s Fastmail has fallen short in this department. But they’ve recently rolled out a new upgrade (Fastmail escapes the 1990s with sleek new interface by Klint Finley) that emulates Outlook’s system and improves on it.

Overall, e-mail, twitter and texts are vital communication tools in today’s business world. It is important to have communication become more of a conversation among all levels of business, not just top down and bottom up. But even these tools that assist us can be in danger of overwhelming our time, and eating away at our productivity levels at work. Balance and time management when it comes to these tools – knowing when to log off – is vital in today’s business environment.

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