It recently emerged that the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust is contemplating introducing email-free days for its 7,000 staff, in a bid to encourage staff to communicate more by talking face-to-face and via the telephone. While this seems a rather unusual tack, it does bring to light the issue of organizations needing to implement appropriate use policies for email.
A UK National Health Service trust has reportedly been considering introducing email-free days.
The thrust of a Hull Daily Mail article about the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust’s plan was that, by having an email-free day on a regular basis, it would provide the staff of the trust with the opportunity to do more talking (be it face-to-face or on the telephone) to get work done, instead of taking email as the easy communication option.
However, email is not necessarily the black sheep of the communications world – sending messages across time zones, keeping telephone communications costs down, and providing a written record of correspondence are all useful aspects of email. The problem is that too many of us do not always think before we send an email. Examples include:
1. Do I have to copy that person?
2. Would this matter be resolved more quickly if I made a telephone call?
3. Am I shying away from speaking to the recipient?
Every day we spontaneously share documents, ask questions, request information, hold discussions, etc., using email. As a result, we spend more and more of our working day ‘doing e’mail,’ trying desperately to keep our inbox under control. Sadly, it would appear that the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust is no different to the rest of us, and has not been able to keep its employees’ inboxes under control.
What is required is education of email users as a whole about what we should be using email for, an appropriate use policy, and that we as individuals should take responsibility for considering whether we should actually subscribe to particular email distribution lists, and whether we should send that email.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)