Andrew Blackman from The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article titled “The Smartest Ways to Use Email at Work” investigating the way email impacts employees and best practices for mastering this specific form of communication. The article was the front-page story on the special section on “Workplace Technology.” As we’ve come to expect from the Journal’s coverage, the article was well researched and covered a range of topics from the nuance of punctuation to the best time of day to send emails. This is great for those who sit behind desks and are fortunate to have corporate email addresses. However, according to Google, 80% of the global workforce – 2.4 billion people – is made up of deskless workers who don’t have their company’s “[INSERT NAME].com” email address. How are these employees being communicated with and engaged?
For many, we take it for granted that most people have a company email address. Having been in professional services for the better part of my career and working in a large office building in New York City, that’s what I thought before starting APPrise Mobile and theEMPLOYEEapp. However, I’ve come to learn that this is not the case. In fact, when you get out of the big cities and into industries like manufacturing, hospitality, retail, trucking, mining, etc., it’s quite the opposite. Think about it this way – employees working on assembly lines, housekeepers at hotels, miners working in coal mines, truck drivers, restaurant servers, and cashiers at big box chains – do you think their employers provide them with Outlook email accounts? The answer is no. (By the way, there’s a reason for this – the minimum cost to a company for a Microsoft Exchange email license is $4 per employee/month. 2.4 billion of them would increase Microsoft’s annual revenue by about $115 billion.)
So, what is being done about this and why wasn’t there a story in the Journal’s special tech supplement dedicated to workplace technology for the folks who number in the billions and who are responsible for so much of the GDP, not just in the U.S. but throughout the world? It’s a global issue and companies need to find a way to put technology to use to communicate effectively and connect with these people. While trendy workplace tech like Slack is aimed at the traditional office workers and receives a lot of media coverage, the health of the global workforce depends on those whose jobs have no use for this sort of tool.
If you can’t tell, I’m on a mission. Companies need to rally behind their deskless employees who are disconnected and are the most in need of being engaged and better communicated with. To put it bluntly, by only investing in technology that caters to those who are office-bound, organizations will end up leaving this key segment of the workforce behind. This will have a negative impact on employee engagement, recruitment, operational efficiency and overall business health. Email is great, serves an important purpose, and isn’t going away anytime soon. However, in the mobile/digital age, it’s time companies (and the media covering them) consider creative ways and strategies to unlock the power of the entire global workforce.