MONEY

Reply All Email Nonsense Costs Companies Millions Each Year, Destroys Productivity

12/17/2012 01:22 pm ET

It's an office worker's nightmare: in a moment of forgetfulness, you hit the "reply all" button, instantly shooting your potentially personal missive out across the company listserves.

VoloMetrix is a Seattle enterprise analytics company that tracks in minute detail how its clients' employees use technology at work. The company uses the data to improve organizational effectiveness, drive worker productivity and better enterprise business performance, according to its website.

Using data from VoloMetrix, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that at least 15 percent of a typical office worker's day is spent on email, and 5 percent of emails received are replies to all.

When spread over a 10,000-employee company, that lost productivity can translate into losses of tens of millions of dollars per year, the Chronicle reports. "It's death by a thousand cuts," for worker productivity, according to VoloMetrix founder Ryan Fuller.

Sometimes, a slip of the mouse results in a quirky anecdote, like when New York University sophomore Max Wiseltier inadvertently sent an email to his mother in November -- and nearly 40,000 other NYU students, ABC News reports.

Wiseltier’s mistake became an Internet phenomenon, and eventually forced the school to shut down the listserve.

Sometimes, however, the emails are less humorous, as when the State Department's email system crashed in 2009 after an email was mistakenly sent to thousands of not-so-amused employees, U.S. News reports.

In an effort to prevent these types of errors, makers of email programs have developed various options, including a Microsoft plug-in option for Outlook called NoReplyAll, and Sperry Software's Reply to All Monitor, which alerts users anytime they click the reply-all button, according to the Chronicle.

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