Why Emergencies Should be Handled Outside Email

A few weeks ago, I visited The Bahamas and mentioned to a NewHabits-NewGoals class that it’s becoming clear that companies need a way to communicate emergencies outside of email.

We had a discussion about the different reasons why email doesn’t work for immediate notifications and emergency requests:
1. not all email is delivered
2. sometimes email is diverted to a spam folder
3. too many people read email and don’t let the sender know that it was received
4. email messages are difficult to craft well and often result in mis-communication, especially when the content is emotional in nature
5. urgent messages can get lost in the hundreds of other pieces of email sent each day
and the biggest reason of all….
6. the practice of sending urgent email trains all employees to keep checking their messages continuously, just in case something important has just come in — making them all slaves to email – a pernicious and unproductive habit

The fact is, companies to establish alternate ways to communicate urgent messages, and avoid using email wherever possible.

Some have decided to use face to face conversations, phone calls, Skype or instant messages instead. The one thing these methods have in common is that they are synchronous communications that allow for immediate responses, and some degree of negotiation back and forth about how quickly an issue should be addressed, and whether it’s more important than every other time demand someone might have.

It would help the millions of people who waste time checking their email tens and even hundreds of times per day, just in case something juicy has come in within the past few minutes. Too many companies are encouraging their employees to become “more responsive” via email, and fast responders to urgent email, even as they damage their own productivity and that of others.