Yes, we can reduce (if not eliminate) our reliance on email

2013-07-28

Matt O'Hara, CEO of two registered social and sporting clubs in Wollongong, Australia, joins a growing list of businesses like Volvo, ATOS, Halton Housing Trust, and Ferrari that are actively changing how email is used inside their organisations.

The Telegraph newspaper reports that:

"As boss of Oak Flats Bowling Club and the Illawarra Yacht Club, the 41-year-old yesterday said that he had been spending as much as 25 hours a week sorting through, reading and replying to emails.

Now it's more like 45 minutes a fortnight and then only to scan his inbox for anything critical and delete the rest.""

Matt was also interviewed for Channel 7's Sunrise breakfast show:

You can also listen to an interview with Matt on ABC radio.

Matt's experience is comparable with other organisations I've worked with in Australia, where most office-based users report that managing email (responding, filing, deleting etc) can easily consume a day or more of their time. So I'm not surprised at all that Matt was spending as much as 25 hours a week on dealing with email.

Matt also mentions in the Sunrise interview that one of the bigger challenges of reducing the use of email has been how they work with people outside of the club. This last mile challenge means that we probably can't completely eliminate email for the time being, unless of course we find a better way to connect people between organisations.

I live in Wollongong and also had the chance to chat to Matt about his experiences. I was particularly curious to know if he was making use of any other technologies to fill the information sharing gap left by avoiding email. I was really pleased to find out that he has been using tools like Basecamp and Dropbox. For Oak Flats Bowling Club and the Illawarra Yacht Club, these tools make perfect sense - larger organisations may need to think about also providing tools that allow staff to escape email by 'working outloud'.

I've also said before that the problem with email is everyone else. However, its also true that it takes someone like Matt in an organisation to take the first step in breaking the reinforcing feedback loop of email.

I would also suggest that Matt's stance on email reflects a broader progressive business outlook - for example, his club is also working on reducing its environmental footprint and he has engaged his own staff to become environmental champions.

Reducing your email footprint takes leadership and technology.

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