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Email Still Rules the Workplace

Polls in CPA Letter Daily offer an insight to readers’ opinions about trends and developments in today’s business environment.

Here is last week’s poll question and a breakdown of the nearly 1,500 responses it generated: Email used to be the standard for quick and informal exchanges with colleagues. But in many offices, texting and instant messaging are taking over. Which tool do you prefer for communicating with co-workers?

  • Email on computer – 67.9%
  • Phone call – 14.97%
  • Instant message – 12%
  • Text message – 2.7%
  • Email on smartphone – 2.43%

Honestly, it’s no surprise that a vast majority of readers still rely on “traditional” email. While there are certainly other methods of communicating in the workplace, none of them appear to be as popular. Most likely because they are not all an effective means of communication. That’s not to say that each method doesn’t have its advantages.

Like our readers, I mainly use email to communicate with co-workers, but sometimes another method is needed. I’ve found text messaging to be helpful when out of the office at a conference or similar event and need to coordinate. Meanwhile, instant messaging is great for those questions that have quick answers, e.g. “What planet did Luke Skywalker grow up on?” (The answer is Tatooine in case you’re wondering).

Typically I save the phone for longer conversations, brainstorming or when I know an idea or project will require more explanation than can be provided in an email. I also find the phone to be the most effective way to communicate an idea, but it can be hard to get someone to put aside the time to get on the phone these days.

One method we didn’t include in the poll was social media, specifically proprietary social networks. A number of companies are now starting to use these social networks which allow their employees to communicate with each other informally over a secure internal network. We’ve started using one at the AICPA recently and it’s proved to be a great help in sharing information across teams and office locations. Our internal social network has also cut back on email volume, saving less important emails for posting on the network. I used to send out mass internal emails to solicit quotes or poll ideas for CPA Letter Daily. Now I post the request on our internal social network. I’ve not only cut back on the volume of email in my co-worker’s inboxes, but my response rate has skyrocketed.

Regardless of your preferred method of communication, it appears that email is here to stay, at least in the business world. Fittingly, email turned 40 this year. Check out the below infographic that came out earlier this year on the history of email, from the first electronic mail message in 1971 to the official AP Stylebook adoption of "email" in 2011 (it was e-mail previously).

History of email
How are you communicating with co-workers?

, AICPA Staff.



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