Has email killed real conversations within companies?

Kirsty_Walden– Posted by Kirsty Walden

Like most people, we’re creatures of habit and regularly tune in to our favourite radio programmes such as Radio 4’s PM.

As well as the usual features about the economy, ructions among EU leaders and the launch of a controversial play, one recent report really made us tune our ears in and turn up the volume.

Apparently a global company has resorted to declaring– an ‘email-free-day’ one day a week in order to improve their levels of productivity, as they’ve been finding that email traffic has increased to the point that employees weren’t able to complete business-as-usual tasks or even attend meetings (let alone find any original thinking or innovation time) due to how long they had to spend to clear their in-boxes.

Some other alarming statistics were shared too such as: 20 hours in a typical week were spent reading and sending emails – leaving less than half the week for face-to-face interactions.  A couple of individuals were quoted saying that they no longer ever ‘talked’ to a colleague because email was more convenient.

We wondered whether rather than trying to hold ‘email-free days’ (seems to us like a case of closing a dam only for the water pressure to burst once it’s re-opened) organisations ought to be more mindful and deliberate about the conversations they need their employees to have.

There is a weight of research that clearly demonstrates people have a wide variety of learning-styles and that to enable the internal ‘ah-ha’ moments that lead to us adopting new behaviours or changing our point of view we really need to talk to each other to exchange views, discuss and debate.

At BB&A what we love most, is actually getting people together to have the kind of meaningful conversations which trigger these personal epiphanies – those key moments which lead to real change and ultimately commercial benefits.  The work we do for Anglo American has shown the real difference it can make.  Our audience of frontline miners are literally at the coalface, so using email or online communications is not even an option! Our face-to-face solutions have created meaningful conversations which are helping to change the way people think about risk – face to face engagement is saving lives!