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Email overload – the gap between sender’s and recipient’s expecations

Posted Monday April 4th, 2011, 8:40 am by

There is a disparity between the sender and recipient’s perception of when a reply is expected.

Research for clients and ‘Brilliant Email’ found  42% of recipients feel that  a reply is expected within a couple of hours and only a third perceive that within a day is acceptable. When the results were presented to the management team in this organisation they were visibly shocked at the disparity as they thought everyone understood that half a day was an acceptable response time.

Many managers in other organisations often comment on how they are surprised by how quickly people respond saying that their email was not that urgent and that they did not need the information for a day or two. Equally there are those who do expect an instant reply. Journalists are often the worst, expecting an instant reply. Sometimes it’s acceptable when in response to a news story. Other times it is just because of bad planning and a deadline creeping up.

PAs often tell me that their manager expects an instant reply.Yet when challenged about whether they have discussed what is a realistic reply time few have even discussed this issue.

If you are a manager think about delaying sending non-urgent message until later in the day to allow your team to focus on the real job.  With most software you can either use rules or you will find there is a ‘delay delivery function’.  Try it and see how productivity improves.

What do you think?

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