The Practitioner: always on

EVER FEEL that your life is controlled by your email inbox?

I’m definitely starting to get that feeling. My new smartphone and the wonders of Microsoft Exchange mean that I am at the constant beck and call of my clients, staff, and my other partners in the office. I am never more than an arm’s length away from my emails, and it is starting to take its toll on my home life.

At first I thought it was great to answer queries instantly, and to prove to clients that I really do provide great quality service. Recently, however, a meeting ended in a bust up between two partners and since that day they have chosen to communicate by email only.

Every single message has been copied to every other partner and the row is generating approximately 50 emails a day, as well as causing a lot of stress among the partners because it’s wasting buckets of chargeable time.

The trouble with emails is that infuriatingly you can end up reading the same thing more than once if you read several replies from different people on the same subject. And by the time you get to the end of the thread the original problem may already be resolved. So after wasting 15 minutes reading you reach the conclusion that you didn’t actually need to see them at all!

It makes you wonder how people kept in touch before the advent of modern communications. There is definitely a lot to be said for an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation/debate/argument. 

Arguing by email is easy, and totally non-productive. It can last for days, weeks even, and never actually near resolution. But put two people in a room to battle it out and you can guarantee that after a couple of hours the issue will be resolved… one way or the other.

Of course, email has its uses. It avoids having to call the client that nobody understands and it avoids the need to tell the office junior to his face that he needs to brush up on his personal hygiene. 

Best of all it now avoids the need to spend hours on hold to the software support centre listening to that ridiculous music.

Thank you email. I think.

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from the coalface of a regional firm in the heart of England


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