Searching for another e-mail, finding a source, verifying another document…where did I put it again? Slosh, and another half hour has passed! You know what this is? Time wasted as you search for something without getting a result!
This is not only a frustrating feeling, but also a proven fact based on the current study about team productivity by the OTRS Group, which was carried out among 500 employees in Germany, the USA and Brazil: Over 80 percent of employees say they spend, on average, half an hour a day searching for information. More than 23 percent even need two hours a day to search for information alone.
Over 80 percent of employees say they spend, on average, half an hour a day searching for information.
Communication via e-mail does not always seem to be efficient. Over 32 percent need, on average, one hour a day to sort their email. 28 percent say that other tasks are repeatedly pushed backwards or forgotten with as they manage their inbox.
According to a study by the Kaizen office, the loss of working time due to inefficient work organization in Germany even amounts to one full working day per week. In addition, the study has shown that this results in an average of six hours of overtime per week. At the same time, according to the OTRS study, almost 40 percent say that a good work-life balance brings them the greatest satisfaction in the job. Does this fit well with the amount of overtime being required to process email?
Here are some tips to structure your day so that you have as much time as possible for your core tasks. These not only increase productivity, but also job satisfaction:
- Before you write an email, carefully think about the recipients/receivers for whom it makes sense and is relevant. Structure your email so that the recipient gets all the important information at a glance and immediately knows whether the email is only informational or whether it requires action. Use phrases like “For review” or “Action required” in your subject line to help with this.
- Create dedicated time blocks to process your email so that email managmenet does not distract you from your core tasks throughout the day.
- Reduce the number of emails by implementing a ticketing system. This adds structure and tracking to communication so that details aren’t lost, while also reducing the number of critical emails employees receive.
- Even the structuring of electronic inboxes can work wonders. A folder structure that uses project names or is organized by task status (completed, to be edited, etc.) can be very helpful.
- You don’t have to rewrite every email: It often helps if you put together a template with frequently needed answers or phrases and use it again and again to save time.
Implementing a document management system can help reduce the number of emails sent.
Implementing a document management system can help reduce the number of emails sent because employees won’t need to shuffle items between one another through email. Instead, they save documents to a mutually accessible area for sharing and storage.
Consider which storage system is suitable for your team and communicate this to your employees accordingly. Whether your document management system is hosted in the cloud or locally, make sure you have the right structure, names and access rights. This should be regulated at both the local and global levels, so that international teams also have access here.
IT Service Management
- Provide self-help tools to employees. If employees are given instructions on how to solve issues themselves, it will reduce the number of inquiries that come to the service team via email.
- Make sure that IT problems do not cost the employee too much time. Communicate clearly how long a user should spend on trying to solve the problem himself before contacting IT.
- Teach employees the best way to contact IT for faster service, i.e. by email, phone call, ticket or iChat. Be sure to regulate and record these channels to be able to streamline service in the future.
If you think the tips are too time-consuming or if your team is still struggling with email overload, a ticket system can also help people work more efficiently and have more time for their core tasks. Ticket systems mean that all inquiries, problems and resolution steps are stored in a centralized place. Structuring the communication is automatic, because all information on a topic is stored in a single ticket – comparable to paper folders in which all documents for a process are stored together. Automatic reminders also ensure that deadlines are met with realistic time windows, meaning teams don’t have to constantly review their email boxes to prioritize their work.
The time-consuming search for the right email or required information, as well as the time spent sorting emails, must be minimized in order to have a truly productive workday. Work with your team on improving the way in which you use email to communicate and start investigating other tools – like document management systems and ticketing systems – to see if there are better ways to work together and streamline routine tasks. Mostly though, we hope you enjoy working efficiently in the area where you really are the professional!