Why Email Still Dominates the Workplace and Your Life

Careful.  This one will make you nervously laugh because chances are (unless your Luis Suarez) you feel the same way, too.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) surveyed their employees & contractors over a year ago.  The results came in, but I don’t know if many people noticed the comedy.

A question near the beginning asked how they feel about email.  The answer was a resounding, “We can’t stand it.  It is a time waster.”  Then, another question at the end asked (paraphrased), “What is the best way to communicate information to you?”

The answer? Overwhelmingly EMAIL.

Ask yourself the same questions and, if you are like most people, you will probably have to admit that you would have answered the same way. (You may nervously laugh now.)

So why do we do what we hate doing?   In an earlier post I said it was because of emotion and habit.


In the comments of the above post, Spencer asked, “How is it that email continues to dominate the work environment as the power app? Why is that not changing?”

Good point.  If we look at this problem logically, we notice that those entering the workforce don’t use email nearly as much as we, who are in the workforce, do.  So, reason would stand that in a few years, because they bring their habits to the workforce we will rely less on email.

But when they join us they also adopt the email habit and work just as inefficiently as we do.  Wha?!

Habit is not only personal habit, but also cultural habit. When a new person joins the workforce, they also join and buy in to the culture, processes and traditions of working.  And, for the most part, they are not in a position of authority to make any changes.  Thus, the habit continues. We continue to use email and love and despise it all at once.


So, how do we stop the madness?  First, I don’t believe email will ever go away.  Just like the phone didn’t – and sending snail mail.  It will instead be pushed into a more narrow focus of function.

The change starts with you.  And me.  And Luis.  YOU must use the best tool and lead your organizations.  It will take time.  You will need to be bold.

It won’t stop until the habits of the organization changes.  And who better to lead the charge than you?

I am not advocating recklessly ditching email.  Instead, find alternatives that will work – even if they push the culture some.  You might ease in.  Although, if your culture will sustain it, drop it altogether like Luis did.  Help others (because many feel the same way you do).

Teach by example. Lead the charge.