We need email stamps! (Really expensive ones)

This is a rant. If you are not interested in reading rants, mosey along …

I love the fact that email is almost instant and free, but I’m wondering whether – at least within big companies – we shouldn’t introduce email stamps. I’m serious. Recently it seems like that for every email I’m sending I’m getting four or five emails back. I’m being buried under an absolute relentless onslaught of emails. And I’m not the only one. I have spoken to many other people and the complain is always the same: “I hardly have time to read my emails, let along respond to all of them.”


Photo by dano

The reason is of course that people have absolutely no email etiquette – and CC is the worst! Most people are just CCed so that  you can later say “I kept him/her in the loop”, when all it is is a lazy attempt to cover your own ass.

Someone who has a pretty important position at an international humanitarian organization recently told me that she automatically filters all emails where she is CCed in and never looks at them. And, she said, she never misses anything important.

The evil that is “free”

Of course the reason that people are so reckless with their emailing behaviour is because it is as good as free to send.  But unfortunately the real costs of emailing are much higher than the transmission costs. How much do all these useless emails cost the organization in working hours? It must be an enormous amount!

That is why I think we need to make sending emails more expensive again. Maybe big organizations or corporations could adopt an Outlook plugin where for every email address you include, two US-dollars are being deducted from your budget and added to the corporate pension fund? I bet that would very quickly reduce the number of people you CC – and it would help people to get out of from email hell earlier! Alternatively there could be a quota system: the fist five emails per day are free, after that each email address costs something.

I don’t know. But something must be done. Else I’ll go back to carrier pigeons (which would carry USB sticks) and working from a remote island. At least that way I might be able to get something done!