The Email Cc’ combines a benign appearance and exponential results that can swallow-up the average office worker’s day. Let’s take a look at why the email Cc’ should come with a warning label much like a pack of cigarettes.
If I were to email an employee, they would likely reply. That is (at a minimum) two emails.
Not too shabby.
Consider instead, I “Cc” two people on that email. This increases the likelihood that a number of different exchanges could result. Cc’d party one (1) could email the employee directly. The employee could email Cc2. Cc2 could email the whole group… the list goes on and on. To calculate the number of potential exchanges we need to utilize the permutation formula from the mathematical study of Combinatorics.
To calculate the permutations of potential interactions between the sender, receiver, and the two “Cc’d” parties we will apply the permutation formula Four choose Two (4!c2!), which is 4×3 or 12. We then need to add four since each entity can also email the entire group. This results in 16 possible permutations.
Whoaa… those two Cc’s just increased the email chain potential interaction by 700%.
Imagine, a few days ago, I received an email with thirty plus Cc’s and I know I am not the only one swamped in electronic correspondence. Just look at what Harvard Business Review reported:
“The average professional spends 28% of the work day reading and answering email, according to a McKinsey analysis. For the average full-time worker in America, that amounts to a staggering 2.6 hours spent and 120 messages received per day.”
For many, the Cc’ seems so innocent and that is where the problem starts. We add our bosses to that quick response to a client to show them we are on it. We Cc’ Sharon in accounting, because it seems like the right thing to do. We may even Cc’ other members of the client’s team since they always include those people in their emails anyway. And why wouldn’t we? It takes barely any time to include them in the chain and it doesn’t cost us anything.
Or does it?
Harvard Business Review’s article demonstrates that this afterthought can be detrimental to your entire operation. I contend that much of those 2.6 hours per day spent working on one’s inbox can be attributed to the overzealous use of Cc’s in many organizations. We already demonstrated that four people on a chain can result in the potential for 14 additional email interactions. Add two more on the Cc’ line and the total potential interactions jump to 36. Now consider that HBR’s research tells us that it takes, on average, either 15-30 seconds for someone to read an email or three-seconds to delete it. Then, it takes that individual another 64 seconds on average to return to their normal state of work. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out this is an unsustainable practice.
Sure, we are not reading every single email we are Cc’d on and it doesn’t take many of us 64 seconds to return to work after reading every email. These are just averages. The point of this article is to demonstrate through sheer math just how dangerous those Cc’s can be.
Use them wisely my friends.