Considering how much office workers use email it’s appalling how bad we are at it. Luckily there is a resolution and it doesn’t take more than a couple minutes to review the productivity tips and start writing emails effectively.
Starting by writing an appropriate subject line will immediately improve the productivity of all your recipients. Keep it to 3-4 words and make sure it describes the content in a unique way. More here: http://www.asianefficiency.com/email-management/productive-email-subject-lines/
For the email body, as long as it’s appropriate to your subject, keep it to between 50-125 words, use a 3rd grade reading level and do not include more than 3 questions.
Always consider the intended audience and adjust TO:/CC: lines. Consider if “reply-all” is appropriate and if changing audiences, consider if the subject needs to be modified in order to take the conversation in a new direction (thus avoiding the “grouped conversations” stack).
If your email is attempting to “hook” your audience – e.g. to get information, sell/market something or get an invoice paid, consider sending it in early in the morning or during lunch rather than mid-morning and afternoons. More here: https://blog.boomerangapp.com/2016/02/7-tips-for-getting-more-responses-to-your-emails-with-data/
Thinking that instant messages and shared calendars are going to be the answer to productivity challenges? I encourage the reader to reconsider: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/08/21/640596144/why-people-cant-get-work-done-at-work
* As published in the PMI-SAC April 30, 2018 email newsletter.
Remote Working Tips
Sometimes its impossible to avoid having remote team members. Here’s some tips for preparing to communicate:
1) On teleconferences, mitigate any “bad connection” problems by reminding all participants to mute unless they are talking.
2) Check the internet connection before the meeting. If possible, choose a wired connection over wireless. If the internet is bad or unavailable a participant may become audio only. As a contingency to audio only, having a team sync tool that offers use in offline mode can be useful. Examples are: Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox.
Extra tip: Cisco Spark has a tool for testing internet readiness for softphone calling, screen share and conference calls. In addition to bandwidth it also tests for critical real time application requirements such as jitter: https://mediatest.ciscospark.com/#/main. If the remote work site is a location that will be used often then it might be worth having the local internet service provider look into any issues the Cisco Spark tool finds.
3) Ensure the remote worker has a good headset. As long as the internet connection is good typically a stereo headset will noticeably exceed cell phone quality. It also avoids having to connect two tools: a phone and a screen share. Here’s a site with headset reviews: http://www.toptenreviews.com/business/articles/best-voip-headset-review/
Extra Tip: Have a visual cue to remind yourself of your mute status. This reduces the chance for the dreaded “talking while accidently muted” issue. The author uses the Logitech H820e wireless headset as the boom mike has a red LED.