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April 24, 2007



This is because within a hierarchy, information flows only up and down, whereas in an egalitarian network it goes all over the place.

Our ministry could be described as hierarchical and yet information flies like fruit in all directions and different departments are often seen walking the corridors to another department.

They could send e-mails but this way is more fun.

Peter Risdon

Er... recruitment consultants do their business by email - the niche software products like ADAPT reflect this with email integration into case management.

So this isn't a correlation. It's direct measurement of productivity.


No, Peter. This is a measure of internal email only. And it's a measure of the number of people workers are in contact with, not the number of emails they. It's not clear a priori that either of these measures must be associated with higher revenue-generated ability.
The volume of external email - which is what should bring in business - has zero correlation with productivity.


Does the article say anything along the lines of 'reading economics blogs at work increases productivity'?

I'd like some research to back me up, as my colleagues seem dubious.

Glenn Athey

Plenty of economic research to show that knowledge sharing, facilitated by close physical proximity, increases productivity. Now the same seems to be true about virtual proximity and knowledge transfer.

Matt Munro

I think email volume alone is a fairly crude measure. I work in a government dept and having just returned from 3 weeks out office at another site I am in a good position to make another point about email and productivity which is that I would estimate around 50% of email has no direct relationship to my job, and of the other half 50% is of interest but not essential, leaving only the other half (i.e 25% of the total) as relavent communication.
None of this is junk mail in the conventional sense as that is filtered out at corporate level. So the corporate time wasted by the author typing it and me (plus countless others) reading and deleting is totally wasted - not to mention the indirect costs (network maintenance, power suppies etc) expended facilitating the network capacity. My perception is that since the advent of mass email, there is more and faster comunication, but a huge amount of it is superflous.

Ken Gartner

We find, consistently, that overly broad recipient lists for corporate mail are a productivity *loss*. Every person who is CC'd on such a mail wastes at least a fraction of a minute assessing and then deleting it. Or, worse, assesses it and then holds on to it in their inbox 'just in case'.

I helped craft an email best practices paper that is geared to large environments. We find that more than half of the extra chatter comes from about 1% of the user population especially in companies with more than 10,000 employees.

For the curious the best practices paper is available at http://www.permessa.com/whitepapers/Email_Best_Practices

Ken Gartner

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