I have been out and about this week, visiting one of our offices in the north as well as speaking at a conference on how a company’s values drive sales performance.
On my return to the office, more than 1,000 emails were lurking in my inbox, which has left me playing catch-up for the rest of the week.
How did we operate in the good old days of Web 0.0? As I recall, we used to do that thing called “talking to people”, which is now a long forgotten skill. However, were we really less productive without emails or BlackBerrys?
While I am uncomfortable with the way email is overused, it could be a case of better the devil you know
I would argue the opposite. I spend most of the time that I am not in meetings tackling emails. Is this productive? I am paid to be creative and strategic. To analyse, think and make profound statements about the future direction of my organisation, not deal with the latest great data-list offer (yes, Patricia the spammer is still contacting me, despite my daily requests to unsubscribe from her guaranteed opted-in lists) or even the numerous “further to our telephone conversation” emails from my colleagues, that really do not need to be sent.
And this is my point. If we could not speak to someone in the Web 0.0 era, we would write them a note, which we would put in the internal mail and it would arrive 24 hours later. We would expect them to take a couple of days thinking about what we had asked before returning it via the same internal mail. All in all, we would expect a one-week turnaround, and would plan on that basis.
In the current world, we send an email and allow 24 hours before we start chasing for a response.
My big concern is: where are we going with all this? Everyone is saying that “social” will replace email, even in the workplace. I now have access to Instant Messenger and something called Chatter, which is in your face and sets an expectation for an immediate response.
While I am uncomfortable with the way email is overused, it could be a case of better the devil you know, rather than have my screen constantly flashing with demands for immediate responses to this and that.
Is this really the future we have to look forward to? My thoughts flash to the classic 1968 film Planet of the Apes and the scene where Charlton Heston walks along a shoreline and discovers the charred remnants of the Statue of Liberty.