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MATH: How Much Would Banning "Reply All" Save Your Company?

Reply all?  It sucks, right?  But does it really cost your company anything?  Do the math on some numbers that I spotted recently in BusinessWeek:

"At least 15 percent of a typical office worker’s day is spent on e-mail, and 5 percent of e-mails received are replies to all, according to data from VoloMetrix, a Seattle startup that tracks, minute by minute, how its clients’ employees use technology at work. While that might sound like a small number, spread those stats over a 10,000-employee company and “you rapidly get to a pretty big number in terms of dollar cost—in the tens of millions of dollars [per year],” says VoloMetrix founder Rya 452688_ReplyAll09 (1)n Fuller. For worker productivity, he says, “It’s death by a thousand cuts.”

So let's roll with that math.  Let's say you have a 1,000 person white collar company and the average salary is 50K.  If 15% of a worker's day is spent on email, and 5% of that email glut is reply all, then you could make an arguement that about 15.6 hours a year are spent on reply all types of emails.  Do the math - $24.03 per hour on average X 15.6 hours X 1,000 FTEs, and you've got an intereresting total - $375,000.

But the math is really only part of the equation, right?  It really comes down to how productive - or unproductive - you feel the reply all button is.  

Answer that question and you're ready to answer the big question - Do you believe that reply all is so unproductive that you would remove the functionality from Outlook to prevent it's misuse?

Well?  Do you feel lucky, punk?  Would you do it?  Geek posts like this one say it can be done.

What would you do if you ruled the world?  Or at least your division?


Colleen Fitzgerald

I am okay with the "reply all" button--just as long as the offenders know I use my filters.

Joe Rice

Isn't posting a comment to a blog effectively the same as "reply to all"? Would you want to remove that functionality? The point is for readers--to the blog or the email--to engage in dialog or to ensure group awareness. I'll concede there needs to be some common sense on when to reply to sender vs. all, but natural selection should solve that, right?

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