Poll: Email Loads at Work

Bill Kearney wkearney99@hotmail.com
Tue, 23 Apr 2002 07:50:25 -0400

> From: Kelley <kelley@interpactinc.com>

> I'm curious about what emails loads people are dealing with on a daily
> basis. I'm interested in  work related email,  not spam, not lists, not
> goofing off with your buds at work. Either estimates of current situations
> or former employments situations is fine.  if you can estimate how big the
> company was/is that would be great, but not necessary.
> We brought a new person on our team, someone in marketing/admin, who is
> distressed at all the mail. From talking with her, she's getting about 4-7
> emails/day that are related to the projects she wants to stay plugged in
> to, but isn't a core member of. Most of us know that this is nothing in
> terms of email load. Still, for the purposes of discussion, as well as for
> the arsenal of debate, we'd like some more data for comparison purposes.

The problem isn't with the quantity.  It's the fact the person is new.  This is
the classic problem of how does the new person "catch up" to the current level
of conversations related to the project.  The standard response of "go read the
archives" comes to mind.  There are, most likely, no archives to consult.  Thus
the frustration starts rising towards panic level.  To make matters worse, the
current spate of messages probably doesn't seem all that informative to the new
person.  The recent messages aren't *telling* her something.  This she's
confusing as being just noise.  And from a pure content perspective the text may
well indeed be nothing but noise.  But the presense of noise doesn't mean the
complete absense of signal.

Sounds like the new person is going to have to "learn the ropes".  The better
question is what methods/people are available to assist that process.  The
solution is not to kill the message quantity.  The solution is to get that
person up to speed.  Do it quick before she ruins her respect from the current
participants.  The typical lashing out about the noise is not the answer.   It's
sort of like swimming in the ocean. Bitching about getting wet only makes the
other people already in the water, swimming hard, think you're stupid.  The
situation often devolves from there, and usually quite rapidly.

I get about 300 (non-spam) messages a day.  About 25 of which are critical and
involve decisions directly related to work at hand.  Some 100 or so others are
informative and will likely influence future critical decisions.  The balance
are noise with about half indicating levels of activity more than actual
content.  The presense of activity is more like a heartbeat indicating life;
better to know there is a steady level.  Knowing there's the usual level of
noise is almost as important as genuine content.

-Bill Kearney