The news earlier this month that the Italian sports car maker, Ferrari, is clamping down on internal emails will raise a sigh of envy in offices across the globe.
Or at least it should. An email box full of items marked “Unread” is a dispiriting, energy-sapping, motivation-reducing sight. Yet we persist in scattering emails to the four corners of cyberspace, copying them to all and sundry in the belief that this demonstrates productivity. We forget how much we are reducing the productivity of the recipient.
The Ferrari initiative, which has apparently come straight from the company chairman, is intended to get staff to “talk to each other more and write less”. In future, Ferrari employees will be able to send the same email to no more than three people in-house because, as the directive points out, copying emails to dozens of recipients for whom they have no relevance is “one of the main causes of time wastage and inefficiency in the average working day”.
The problem is that using emails effectively is a skill that few are taught. Emails should be a quick, informal channel of communication. So brevity, simplicity and a clear purpose are essential. Yet how often are they employed as a “let’s remind everyone that I’m at my desk” device.
The result is usually a vague, ill-defined message that often does not require either a reply or resolution. At least if you are phoning an office colleague, or drawing up a chair to sit beside them, you will be expected to deliver information which has a purpose. The result? Greater speed and focus in internal communication.
Ferrari may move faster than most – but there should be many more companies following in their slip-stream.