Is email consuming your workday?

It’s safe to say that everyone in the workforce has had a day or two where they wonder where the time went. You know that feeling, you sit down for work at 8 a.m. and it feels like just five minutes later, it’s 5 p.m.

While there are many reasons the days go by too quickly, the problem could be a method of communication that you can take anywhere you go – email.

According to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, we all spend about 28% of our workweek either reading, writing, or just responding to email. The Atlantic estimates that this equals to about 650 hours a year. Yikes!

Apparently, we spend more time on email than we do communicating and collaborating internally, along with searching and gathering information relevant to our work.

While email does have its place in the workplace and many businesses depend on email as a crucial part of business, 28% of our time, which is about 13 hours in a workweek, is stretching it. Time is precious, and as a manager, you’re already under time constraints from making sure your direct reports deliver their projects on time, in addition to performing your own duties.

Generally speaking, it seems one reason we all get “buried in email” is due to the increasing amount of reply-all messages. Think about the last time you received a reply-all email, it probably distracted you from the work you were doing. And then you respond with “Thank you” or even just “Okay,” which is more time spent on this reply-all email that you probably didn’t even need to be part of in the first place.

There’s a time and place for email, but too many workplaces are abusing this form of communication. While some companies have looked to reduce the number of emails by banning the reply-all features, there is another move you can make to break the email habit.

For instance, McKinsey points out that while 72% of companies use social technologies (blogs, Twitter, forums, etc.), only a few are achieving its full benefit. Instead of relying so much on email, the report suggests that when companies use social media internally it could reduce email usage by as much as 35%, which means freeing up more time during the workweek.

The thought process behind this is that internal social media gives employees access to information quicker and more efficiently than through email. In addition, internal social media may also help inspire more collaboration with not just your team members, but through other departments as well.

In fact, a new study from Baylor University found that companies with an internal social media networking site could actually improve morale and reduce turnover. The study also revealed that participation led to a greater sense of well-being, organizational commitment, and better employee engagement.

Millennials, in particular, responded well to the internal social network platforms as it allowed them to get access to people in the company to get useful information and learn about new perspectives, while also building a sense of community at work.

At the same time, the study cautioned that internal social media might not be suited for all companies. Before beginning an internal social networking initiative, organizations should consider analyzing how the system may impact its users and non-users, the report stated.

Whether it’s building an internal social media platform or simply reducing the “reply-all” method of communication, continue to look for ways to help free up time for you and your direct reports.

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