Better Email Management can Save Companies $87 Billion a Year

Some $87 billion in wasted time a year could be saved in the United Kingdom alone simply by enforcing  better email management by corporate directors and senior managers.

That’s the conclusion reached by a U.K.-based training company after its surveyors discovered that directors and managers waste an hour a day on their jobs because they manage their email poorly.

The estimate from the study conducted by training company Emailogic is based on an average director making $140,000 a year and there being some 4.5 million private companies in the United Kingdom.

An hour may not sound like much, but that’s 20 hours a month, or half a work week, that could be used to increase a highly paid individual’s productivity and further fatten a company’s bottom line.

“This is highly significant because it is 20 hours per month of senior executive time—this is key personnel time being lost every day and will be having real impact on business productivity,” Emailogic Managing Director Marc Powell.

The survey was based on a study of 115 senior managers, directors and partners from a variety of industries—pharmaceuticals, banking, law and retail. Based on a comparison between the time spent by the executives on email before and after they completed their email management training, the surveyors found that they saved 59 minutes a day from their email regimen.

One of the tips that email management trainers give their students is to avoid checking their inboxes every time a new message arrives. Doing that, they contend, creates productivity leaching interruptions. They recommend turning off all audio alarms—no more “You’ve got mail!”­—and checking mail at defined intervals.

From Emailogic’s survey findings, the study participants took that tip to heart because, as a whole, they were checking their inboxes 39 percent less often after finishing their training.

More advice offered to the execs was to let people know when they send you a copy of information that you don’t need and to write clear and meaningful subject lines.

That advice, too, appears to have been embraced by the execs because they told surveyors that irrelevant emails in their inboxes had been reduced by 22.5 percent and the amount of email in those inboxes had fallen by 33 percent.

An added benefit of those reductions in email, the surveyors maintained, was the ability by the execs to keep the list of messages in their inbox confined to a single screen. That gave them a feeling of greater control of their inboxes and changed their attitudes toward email which, prior to taking the management training, they described in a number of unflattering ways, including irritating, love/hate, frustrating, overwhelming and horribly addictive.

While the training may have made the execs more efficient in using email, it may have encouraged inefficiencies in other areas. For instance, the execs reported that they were using their phones more often. That doesn’t sound like a more efficient use of time to many of us.

Without a doubt, Emailogic’s survey is self-serving—after all, they’re in the business of email management training—but that doesn’t make their findings any less revealing or recommendations less useful. If execs want to take their email management training to the next level, however, they may want to rethink their view of email, from looking at it as merely a communication tool and transforming it into a productivity tool, as Jeff Orloff outlined in his blog item here last month.

Written by John P Mello Jr

John Mello is a freelance writer who has written about business and technical subjects for more than 25 years. He is frequent contributor to the ECT News Network and his work has appeared in a number of periodicals, including Byte magazine, PC World, Computerworld, CIO magazine and the Boston Globe

4 Comments

  1. Trive Owens · December 5, 2011

    $87 billion sounds a lot but it can’t be automatically converted into real money. It’s just like the hundreds of billions of dollars lost worldwide due to traffic jams. If you take a look at it, these so-called “losses” have many variables.

    It’s not like the losses you lose in a bad investment, when you buy a car, purchase a house, or something that can be counted directly. Also, a wasted time due to poor email management is mainly attributed to the person using the platform – and not to the system itself.

  2. John Bailey · December 5, 2011

    When you combine this with the studies of how much work people actually do in a given day, I bet it doesn’t change a thing. Everyone, from janitors to CEOs really only have a set amount of productivity in them, and hardly anybody works from shift start to shift end with the same tenacity and energy. I’m sure a lot of people use their e-mail time as a way to sort of step out and turn the brain off.

  3. J Carls · December 7, 2011

    I both agree and disagree to Trive Owens’ comment. True, the money lost due to bad email management can’t be directly converted into cash. However, the $87 billion a year has a worth, meaning it has value that can be added to the asset of a company. Even if the organization only lost $50,000 a year, it’s still money out of the pocket. That amount can be applied into good use – such as buying 50 units of computers, hiring a new employee and paying his salary and benefits for 1 year, purchasing additional office furniture, renovating the conference room, and so on.

  4. Email Addict · December 14, 2011

    I’m a self-confessed email ADHD. I can’t turn off my email notifications – even while I’m sleeping I see to it that I have my tablet or smartphone with me so that I can check my two email accounts. I know it’s a sort of disorder but I’m just used to it. At work, I keep on checking my email every 30 minutes. My new year’s resolution this year is to limit myself when it comes to checking all my emails, even if it is related to my work.

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