You can ease an organization's overall e-mail burden by teaching top executives to send fewer, and clearer, e-mails, a team from consulting and academia has discovered. In a study at the headquarters of a large company, the team found that each executive e-mail begets a time-wasting flurry of other messages, especially if the original is confusing or ambiguous.
To see how dramatic the potential time savings can be, take a look at this interactive:
The figures in the exhibit assume that each staff member sends 40% fewer messages (on average) than each executive, that a message consumes 1.5 minutes of an employee's time, and that the staff's e-mail reduction rate is 1.185 times greater than the executives'. The researchers found this "contagion ratio" at the headquarters they studied.
The interactive is based on research by Chris Brown and Andrew Killick, practitioners at Modeuro Consulting, and Karen Renaud, a senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow. For more on their findings, read this article from our September issue.