It would be easy to say that digital communications belong to the world of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and a slew of other social media platforms providing immediate messaging and instant gratification. For some, it’s hard to believe many consider email the new “snail mail”; broken, inefficient and filled with logistical gaps. Though far from perfect, email is also far from over.
What’s Wrong With Email?
While email remains a critical work tool, virtually no one would argue it’s filled with inefficiencies. Considered “asynchronous” messaging, email allows you to respond at a later time (as opposed to instant “synchronous” messaging such as SMS or IM), which can lead to an overflowing inbox. It’s easy to see how the average office worker considers managing emails to be part of their workday.
“It’s tedious having to wade through not only different email threads, but to determine which ones take priority,” Chloe Kearon, senior consultant for digital delivery at a major Canadian retailer, tells Parentology. “And forget it if you have to cc another team, which creates more volume and sometimes, more confusion.”
In her role, Kearon says email can lead to slow decision making. “Since it’s not real-time, we’re sometimes stalled when big decisions have to be made in a timely manner.”
Email in the Workplace
According to Frontapp.com, the average office employee receives approximately 55 business emails a day. It’s viewed as the simplest, most universal means of communication in the workplace.
“There’s nothing you need to learn in order to send an email,” Perry Monaco, senior customer success leader at LinkedIn, tells Parentology, “You don’t need to be a millennial, and you don’t need to know a specific language outside of basic email etiquette.”
From recruiting and HR, to finance and tech support, most departments require email for collaboration on projects, timelines, documentation and general moving along of the workday. According to Forbes.com, people read most of their emails and don’t mind receiving them as long as they’re relevant, interesting and specific to their needs.
Email And Younger Generations
Despite the immediate availability of social media and the hype surrounding messaging apps, email remains popular among younger people, and for much the same reasons as their older counterparts.
Emails are less urgent and have more formatting options than texts, which are limited to a few hundred characters. Most colleges assign students their own personal email account, which is expected to be used as a professional vehicle for academic exchanges. Young people aren’t constrained by work hours either. A recent survey of 15 to 25-year-olds shows 70 percent check their inboxes at least hourly.
Email is Growing
According to a plethora of research between 2014 and 2018, the average office employee received approximately 90 emails a day and sent around 40 business emails daily. There are over 6.69 billion email accounts, and this number is expected to reach 7.91 billion by 2022.
However, this speaks less to the popularity of email than it does to our increased dependence on it. “An increase in emails doesn’t mean we’re getting better quality of information or using email to better assist us in our productivity,” Monaco says. “It just means we’re getting more.”
While there’s no question synchronous messaging will continue to persist and pervade the workplace for instant, real-time communication, email will remain a steadfast mode of communication and the custodian of a company’s corporate culture. Email plays a crucial role in establishing and maintaining business relationships, protecting an organization’s vision and driving work processes forward.
John Rae-Grant, lead product manager for Gmail, has said “People have been forecasting the death of email for the last 25 years … It’s certainly changing, but in the working world, email is still the baseline glue that pretty much carries everything.”
Monaco agrees. “Everyone has an email address. It’s integral to communication and collaboration.”
The email address continues to be one of the first steps towards establishing an online identity. Considering your inbox probably looks the same as it did 10 years ago, all evidence points to the longevity of email, both as a medium and as a user experience. For all the naysayers and doomsday predictions, no one has ever found its replacement.
Perry Monaco, senior customer success leader at LinkedIn
Chloe Kearon, senior consultant for digital delivery at a major Canadian retailer
Fast Company: Will Email Disappear from the Workplace
Fast Company: How Email Became Reviled
Fast Company: Email is Broken, But it’s Not Going to Die
Templafy: How Many Emails are Sent Each Day
Forrester: You’ve Still Got Mail
Fast Company: Achieving Inbox Zero
Forbes: Email is Not Dead, It’s Evolving
Currency Marketing: Young People Use Email
North Hunterdon Voorhees: Email Address vs Personal Addresses
Forbes: How Millenials Prefer to Communicate
The Radicati Group: Email Stats
Email is Not Dead
Science Direct: Perusing Organizational Culture Effects on Email