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The Problem with Business Communications

Posted on by Brandon Klein

How do you spend your time at work?

Odds are that you are relying far too much on e-mail on the job, but don’t take my word for it. In 2012, McKinsey released a scathing report on how inefficiently we currently spend our time at work. “The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies” provides a fascinating window into our professional lives:

And McKinsey is hardly alone in pointing out just much of our time is spent—and, I’d argue, wasted—in our inboxes. Consider the Radicati Group’s E-mail Statistics Report, 2013–2017. Among the study’s most interesting findings:

    E-mail remains the go-to form of business communication. In 2013, business e-mail accounts totalled 929 million. The number of mailboxes is expected to grow annually at a rate of 5 percent over the next four years, reaching over 1.1 billion by the end of 2017.
    More than 100 billion business e-mails were sent in 2013 every day. That number is expected to exceed 130 billion by 2017.
    The average employee receives roughly 120 to 150 e-mails per day, a number that’s growing by 15 percent annually. (This means that, at this rate, you’ll receive twice as many messages in about 4.5 years.)

Brass tacks: The numbers are staggering, but the explanation is fairly straightforward. There’s a simple reason that most of us are drowning in our inboxes. As also seen in Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It by Phil Simon, we use e-mail for just about everything.