Magazine article Communication World

Face-to-Face or E-Mail: The Medium Makes a Difference

Magazine article Communication World

Face-to-Face or E-Mail: The Medium Makes a Difference

Article excerpt

Each year some 4 trillion e-mails are sent worldwide from about 600 million electronic mailboxes. In 1995, employees sent three e-mails per day and received five. E-mail usage has jumped more than sixfold, with employees now sending an average of 20 e-mails and receiving 30 each day.

During March and April 2001, Rogen International initiated the first study on the effectiveness of e-mail and face-to-face communication in the work place. The study found that the use of e-mail has grown by more than 600 percent in six years, with executives spending at least two hours per day using this communication tool.

More than 1,400 senior- and middle-level executives participated in the international survey. They said that despite popular myth, e-mail has not reduced the amount of face-to-face communication required at work.

While executives are spending an average 120 minutes a day receiving, checking, preparing and sending e-mails, they are also still spending 130 minutes a day in formal and informal face-to-face meetings.

The message from the research is clear. Business leaders should ensure that they maintain the right balance between face-to-face and e-mail. Keeping e-mail relevant to all employees is the challenge. According to the study, more than 30 percent of e-mails received by employees are not directly relevant to their jobs, and this affects an organization's bottom line.

Taking on board this feedback from executives, Table 1 demonstrates the effect of poor e-mail management on productivity:

The calculations in Table 1 are based on an average compensation cost per employee per year of US$50,000, 225 workdays in a year, and 8 work hours in a day. …

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