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Is Email Dying?

on May 23, 2022

This question, “Is email dying?” was first raised in the mid-2010s with the rise of channel discussions such as Yammer. In 2018, Inc. Magazine declared that “Email is already dead” because Gen-Z won’t bother with email and that the rest of us would catch on.  

Email didn’t die then, and we don’t believe email is dying now. But there is a seismic shift in workforce communications driven first by the need to collaborate instantly to accelerate innovation, then by the pandemic to communicate asynchronously, and now by hybrid working and employee preferences for collaboration. Different communication modes also have varying pros and cons. 

With so much change, how do executives keep employees focused on the company’s strategies and goals? 

Ineffective Collaboration and Communication is a Major Cause of Business Failure 

Over 80 percent of employees complain that they receive too much email. While Inc Magazine’s prediction has yet to come true, the workforce is divided in their preference of communications between email, texts, and chat discussions. No wonder most executives would identify ineffective collaboration and communication as a major cause of failure in business. 

According to Laurence Lock Lee’s article in CMS Wire, business use of communications technology lags consumer use, often trailing consumer use by a decade. Mr. Lock Lee writes: 

Today, while experiencing the most digitally intense working period ever, we have a smorgasbord of digital communication options. Like any good smorgasbord, you are spoiled for choice — and we all have our favorite go-to dishes. The difference in this case is that your choice will have an impact on the people you work with. If you choose to work in chat, then your colleagues have to as well. If you choose to work only in email, so will your colleagues. Digital communication use is like one large dating app! And the workplace is being forced to find perfect matches everywhere. 

Technology No Longer Dictates Usage 

The reality is that technology no longer dictates the frequency of interactions and responsiveness. Expectations do. When an email is sent, the expectation is that the responses are in hours or sometimes days. However, chats set an expectation of a much faster turnaround—usually in seconds or minutes. CMS Wires benchmarking of channel discussions reveals that the first response usually occurs within the hour.  

CMS Wire prepared the chart below. It shows the M365 Communications mode characteristics of emails, channel discussions, chat, and calls and meetings. The height of the bar shows the communication mode’s total usage. The lower axis shows the response time. The shading in each bar shows the number of participants. Here are the results: 

  • Emails are most used and tend to reach fewer employees unless executives send all-employee emails. Response times are the longest, up to 24 hours. Emails also have the advantage of attachments and can be filed. 
  • Channel discussions can reach small to broader audiences depending on the number of threads in the messages and the first response often coming within an hour. 
  • Chat or text has fast response times in seconds. In addition, chatbots, not shown in the chart, can send automatic, accurate responses to employee questions instantly. Now chatbots can also be used to send out all-employee reminders and to conduct surveys. 
  • Calls and meetings are widely used and have immediate response times. But meetings have to be scheduled and attended in person or video conference. 
Communication Mode Response Times

Asynchronous, Synchronous, and Balanced Activity 

CMS Wires benchmarking studies of 2,000 Microsoft 365 users across several organizations revealed the existence of workers’ synchronous, asynchronous, and balanced activity. The synchronous activity is in calls, meetings, and chat, and their asynchronous in channel discussions, such as Teams channels, SharePoint, and email. They also plotted balanced activity of workers. Please see the chart below. 

Asynchronous vs Synchronous

CMS Wires’ conclusion is that there are two distinct types of workers: those who prefer using Outlook email/calendar/meetings/chat and those who prefer Yammer/Teams channels/SharePoint/OneDrive. This partitioning is problematic from a collaboration perspective. Only a minority of staff are effectively balancing their activity between all three worker types. CMS Wires suggest the “balanced” workers have optimized their digital behaviors for maximum collaborative performance. 

The balanced workers stay aligned and up-to-date and contributing to the communications with their team members and stakeholders – as well as keeping a pulse on the information they need from the larger organization and its customers.  

Executives Need to Set Expectations 

For executives, it is essential to understand these dimensions and set expectations and ground rules on the usage of communication modes. This is even more necessary in the era of hybrid working and setting clear communication and collaboration exceptions across the generations.  

The ground rules may include: 

  • Responding to chat room discussions within the hour 
  • Answering emails within four hours 
  • Attending required meetings and video calls  

Additionally, to break through the clutter, executives have new tools such as MeBeBot’s AI-driven chat bot to send out push notifications and announcements on business initiatives, updates, and reminders (for events such as benefits enrollment deadlines, company meetings, etc.). MeBeBot’s Push Messaging allows the internal business users (from HR, IT, Facilities, Ops, etc.) to even target and personalize messaging to specific groups of people, within their flow of work.  

In order to reduce the flow of emails, MeBeBot’s Pulse Surveys allows for a quick way to capture employee feedback and sentiment, within collaboration tools, like Slack and Teams. This prevents yet another email request for employee feedback to be sent and produces greater levels of participation versus surveys sent out via email.  

And, by using MeBeBot to automate answers to employees’ commonly asked HR, IT, and Ops questions, the volume of emails sent to the general department shared inboxes is reduced by 30 to 70 percent. By saving the time it takes to weed through emails and respond manually to inquiries from employees, these HR, IT, and Ops team members save 1-2 hours daily of time and employees gain immediate satisfaction from instant responses. The results of using MeBeBot’s AI Intelligent Assistant can be realized, by improving their work experience and increasing productivity. 

Is email dying? No. But executives need to first set expectations for all communication modes on responsiveness and collaboration. Second, leaders need to remind employees to stay focused on the company’s strategies, new initiatives, and goals. Third, internal HR, IT, and Ops team members need to use automation and AI solutions for communication, like MeBeBot, for gathering feedback and supporting FAQs, and to break through the clutter with short, impactful communications.  

About MeBeBot   

MeBeBot’s AI Intelligent Assistant, recently selected as a “Brilliant Bot” in the Slack App Directory, seamlessly installs in Teams, Slack, or web portals to provide employees with instant automated answers to global HR, IT and Ops FAQS. It also provides real-time usage Dashboards, Push Messaging, and custom Pulse Surveys, generating instant employee feedback on of-the-moment questions. MeBeBot’s “one-stop bot” is trusted by leading organizations to elevate the employee experience so work can be more meaningful and valuable.    

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