Study: Email still rules workplace comms, but not for long

Will instant messaging become the primary source of employee communication by 2020?


Email haters, just hang in there for three more years.

Seventy-three percent of chief information officers surveyed by IT recruiting organization Robert Half Technology Inc. said that email will likely reign supreme through 2020. After that, the era of instant messaging shall be upon us—maybe.

Email has become our universal lingua franca at work. Its grip on internal comms has been strong for a decade, but viable competitors are creeping up in popularity. A majority of employees who responded to the Robert Half survey said they prefer in-person meetings to email. Nineteen percent said instant messaging was the “most effective channel for daily communications,” compared to 27 percent for email.

What channels are poised to free us from our inbox shackles?

MediaPost writes:

Of the CIOs who did not feel email will remain the most common medium through 2020, 31 percent cited instant messaging. This was followed by in-person meetings (21 percent), phone calls (19 percent), video conferencing (16 percent) and internal social networks (12 percent).

MediaPost continues:

Asked the same question, employees listed instant messaging (52 percent), video conferencing (23 percent), internal social networks (11 percent), in-person meetings (7 percent), phone calls (4 percent) and something else (3 percent).

According to this survey, workers are much keener to hasten the demise of email than CIO bigwigs, who appear happy to ride the status quo ship as far as it will sail. It could float on well past 2020, if this research is any indication.

With all the hype and hope around instant messaging as the next big thing in workplace communication, though, many people have concerns.

Seventy-six percent of respondents said they feel “pressured” to respond immediately to instant messages, as opposed to 24 percent for an email. Another 90 percent indicated they expect prompt responses to instant message queries.

Are we ready for that kind of immediacy? Isn’t that why we all hate email in the first place?

It remains to be seen how and when email will be usurped. By 2020, the communications landscape could be unrecognizable—or perhaps quite similar to our current milieu.

To read more about the survey, click here.

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