How I survived a week without internal email

Surviving a week without internal email

May 9, 2016

Peter Bennett is our resident tech editor who regularly complains about email ruining productivity – so we put him to the test.

As a millennial, I grew up on internet forums; SMSing, emailing, Beboing, Facebooking, WhatsApping – I won’t even think twice about messaging someone sitting right next to me.

For me, sending a digital message is almost always my first instinct. I mean, who actually uses their mobile to make calls anymore?

Peter Bennett
Peter Bennett

Again, because I’m a selfish and entitled millennial, I’ve never considered how this might affect my working life. So, as a little personal challenge, I decided that I wouldn’t send a single internal email all week.

After some initial friction from my account exec, I was ready to cut myself off. So, how did I do?

Where I succeeded…

Face-to-face conversations
Yeah, it’s obvious. Yes, I know that talking to my colleagues face-to-face isn’t some earth-shattering new discovery that will revolutionise the way I work.

But if you stop and think about it, how many times a day do you send an email to someone that you could easily walk over to and talk to? For me, it was a lot.

And the simple act of chatting to someone directly definitely helped clear up some more complicated tasks. From now on, before I send an internal email, I’m going to take a moment to decide if it’s better to talk to them first.

I’ll admit it – I love Slack. The team messaging platform just works. You can throw web links, pictures, attachments (even GIFs…especially GIFs) at it and it’ll display them perfectly. For me, it works like a digital team whiteboard where we can collate, discover and share ideas.

It doesn’t hurt that it feels far less formal than email, giving the team a bit more freedom to have fun and actually communicate how we do in real life, rather than regurgitating dreaded ‘business speak’ in every email.

Where I failed…

Sending colleagues digital files
A designer needed some artwork that I had on my computer. Out of habit I went to send him an email with the file attached, only to stop myself when I realised.

Now, it turns out that putting said file onto a USB stick and then physically delivering it to its destination is definitely not quicker than sending an email.

What I learnt…

Email isn’t single-handedly killing productivity. I didn’t miraculously become more productive because I swore off internal email – far from it. In fact, I don’t think I noticed any discernible difference in my work output.

Where I did notice a difference is in team spirit, by dramatically upping the amount of face-to-face conversations and having more informal work discussions over Slack, we managed to pull together to overcome a pretty challenging week of work.