The worst part of going on Vacation…

By BroadVision on August 30, 2010

Is when you come back and have hundreds if not thousands of emails waiting for you in the email inbox.

As everyone has experienced before in their professional life, the world does not stop when you take a vacation and regardless of your “out of the office” reply, customers, partners and specially colleagues, keep on writing emails to you.

Let’s admit it, the first day back at work is always full of great anticipation. How many emails will I have in my inbox?

Sure, Blackberries and smartphones have helped us reducing the amount of emails we need to read and respond to (although a true vacation is the one where your smartphone is used only to book a restaurant or check the local weather), nevertheless you could be sure to find hundreds of emails waiting for you when you return.

Using email filters can help, but not much. How do you go about it? Your boss first. Then customers. Then all the others where your are in the “to” field (maybe sorted by subject) and the the majority of the emails that clog your Inbox: where you are “just” copied.

This activity can take up several days depending on the number of emails and your ability to filter. Number of emails depend on your position (customer facing or internal facing etc), the number of days off you take (for Europeans in summer this is a 2-3 weeks minimum), number of projects you work on etc.

How many times have you heard a customer or partner telling you when they are back from vacation, “Let’s talk next week, I need to catch up with my emails”? This is very common in my opinion.

This year I managed to take 3 weeks off and did not use my Blackberry much (well I peeked every now and then). When I returned, my Inbox was surprisingly light. I would estimate a third of the usual size.

How did this happen?

BroadVision has implemented at the end of last year a Global Social Intranet (BroadVision Connect) based on our platform Clearvale.

Internal conversations have started to move gradually from emails to (micro)blogs, forums, wikis, inside various communities or personal pages. With some fine tuning, I have been able to set up my contacts, communities, content I follow allowing to set apart the relevant information from the rest or using more technical terms, signals from noise.

This is my first Summer Vacation since Clearvale was implemented. It took me half a day to go through the emails and the rest of the day to look at feeds of relevant information being discussed on the Social Network.

This activity would normally take at least 3 days for me. Let’s say I am slower than average and I take more days off than the average in my company. Even if you consider just 2 days on average (I believe it is more) for people to catch up with emails and that with a social network they can cut it down to 1 day, on large numbers (thousands of employees) this could mean quite a big productivity increase. Probably this alone could be enough to justify considering the investment in a Social Intranet.

My conclusion, going on holidays is going to be more fun from now on!