EMAIL: a friend of a foe? - European Activism Incubator
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A workshop for managers who wonder if the way their organisation uses email is optimal, and what can be done to ensure this important tool supports the productivity, functioning and well-being of their teams.


During this workshop, managers are invited to reflect on how email is used in their organisation and learn what can be done to ensure it is used effectively.


The participants will learn about the tacit email culture most organisations engage in and about common email habits and fears people have. They will also find out why, if left unchecked, email tends to create excessive demands on people’s energy, time and cognitive resources.


Learning some key concepts from cognitive psychology about how people process information supports the participants in developing a deeper understanding of why email can be both a blessing and a curse.


The participants also discover and discuss various choices that can be made when it comes to email, and are presented with ideas and suggestions on what interventions can be implemented to ensure it serves its rightful purpose: supporting productivity and effectiveness.


The workshop also allocates time to discuss the main concepts of change leadership: what is required to make sure that plans for improvements are actually taken up and implemented.


As a result, managers become better equipped to reflect on, consciously design and put into practice a more positive email culture in their team or across an entire organisation.


    • › staff up-skilling
    • › organisational capacity-building
    • › organisational change

  •      Useful for:

    • › increasing productivity and effectiveness
    • › removing bottlenecks
    • › overhauling internal communication
    • › improving staff well-being
    • › improving organisational resource management


Thirty years ago, personal computing technologies, including email, created a revolution in personal productivity, enabling a new level of self-expression and efficiency, whilst amplifying accessibility and responsiveness.


But alongside the productivity gains, email has also been making people miserable. It can create a sense of overwhelm and drain cognitive resources. Efficiency (i.e. higher output) has not always translated into higher effectiveness.


Part of the problem is that email has entered organisational culture in an unregimented way. Few organisations hold explicit conversations about what the desired and undesirable behaviours are when it comes to email, and what the email’s rightful place in the organisation’s internal and external communication is.


This often results in swelling inboxes, email overload and workers’ energy strained by chain email conversations. According to a McKinsey’s analysis, the average professional spends 28% of the workday reading and answering emails, processing 120 messages per day over 2.6 hours.


It is at least in part because an email culture has not been explicitly set up and discussed and people unwittingly contribute to the problem with poor email behaviour and habits, which cause frustration and waste time. Many resort to various coping mechanisms, sometimes involving compulsive behaviours. Receiving a response to an email becomes rare or takes a long time, which may create bottlenecks.


As a result, email burnout becomes an increasingly frequent but largely unrecognised modern phenomenon.



The ‘Email: a Friend of a Foe?’ workshop is designed to support managers in their efforts to create a healthy email culture and recapture the original purpose of email – using it as a helpful tool to boost productivity and effectiveness across an organisation.


During the workshop the participants:

  • Learn about what cognitive psychology knows about information processing that is relevant to email;
  • Discuss potential traps that come with using email for internal and external communications: why and how it can drain cognitive resources and decrease effectiveness;
  • Discuss and reflect on various strategies and alternatives that can be used to counteract email issues, and the pros and cons of thereof;
  • Find out about the principles of driving organisational change: what is actually needed to shift towards a positive email culture.

    • Duration: 3.5h*
    • Modes of facilitation: on-site or remote
    • Number of participants: 5 – 15
    • Organisational suitability: private, public, and third sector, citizen’s movements, grass-root organisations, informal groups
    • Inquiries: contact@activismincubator.eu

* in remote facilitation, workshops are usually divided into two parts



The workshop can be run with a group of managers who work in one larger organisation, or with those in managerial positions in a range of smaller organisations (that have fewer senior staff).


For the former option, it is advisable to allocate time for a discussion among the managers that will serve as a conversation starter on designing the desired email culture. This is because the managers have to get on the same page before any new working methods can be implemented across the organisation.


For the latter option, it is beneficial to organise the workshop with managers from organisations that have a similar internal structure when it comes to staff, volunteers, members etc. If you are a manager of a smaller organisation who’d like to attend this training, contact us to register your interest and we will create suitable groups for the training.



If you are looking to move forward on issues other than email in an efficient way, check out ‘Solution Accelerator’: our highly effective workshop that assists a team in finding solutions to various problems or in designing an action plan for various projects ahead using the power of collective intelligence.


If your team experiences challenges working together due to internal or external pressures, check out our ‘Unlocking Teams’ workshop. If you’d like to make sure that people communicate from the place of openness and empathy in your team, see our ‘Collaborative Communication‘ workshop.

Next training

Occasionally we run workshops that are open to individual participation, in an online version.

Register your interest here:


Better management

communication, effectiveness, efficiency, organisational culture, performance, problem-solving, relationships, well-being