It’s a long one weekend here in the United States, meaning office workers get at least a three-day break from the dreaded meeting. We wanted to take this time to offer a passionate defense of… email.
Listen to us. It is well known that meetings are deadly to productivity, morale and a happy work environment. So why not write an email?
We know that email also has its drawbacks: it is difficult to manage and is full of spam. But as work increasingly moves online, it is superior to meetings. Two inbox zeros and one Chaos Muppet drowning in notifications – see if you can guess who’s who! – tell you why.
Ram Iyer: Do you like meetings or do you just hate writing?
When I was still a smoker, I also worked for a publication that held regular and wildly unproductive meetings. Most of our team of over 20 people just sat still for an hour while someone boomed about something.
If you count the wasted man hours, each of those meetings wasted an average of 20 hours that could have been spent on real work. They were also unnecessarily stressful: I found myself desperate to smoke after each meeting, and I wasn’t alone.
Fortunately, that has not always been the case. I have been fortunate to have worked mainly in companies that fostered a culture of communication via email or messaging. But when I heard my friends and ex-colleagues complaining about their work over the past few years, I noticed a trend: As the pandemic sent everyone home, meetings became more common, so people noticed they were getting in the way of their work.
I’ve often asked this question over the years: if it can be an email, why not? Why are people so driven to talk when they can write an email and save everyone’s time?
I think I finally have a theory.