Manufacturing Leads The Way In E-mail Equality

Manufacturing leads the way in "e-mail equality," but still has room to improve quality and cut costs by increasing access to electronic communication, according to a recent study. Commissioned by e-mail systems provider Sendmail, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp., the study found that manufacturers are more advanced in their use of e-mail than firms in other sectors. C-level executives and VPs from 44 companies employing an average of 25,000 were interviewed for the study. The results showed that 50% of employees in manufacturing have access to e-mail. By contrast, in other sectors such as health care and hospitality, only 40% of staff use e-mail. In retail, 30% of staff are e-mail-enabled. However, within manufacturing most employees without e-mail access are deskless workers such as plant or warehouse personnel, effectively "e-mail exiles" who receive vital information (scheduling, safety regulations, new procedures or human resources initiatives) later than their desk-based colleagues. In addition, "e-mail exiles" don't have a voice in corporate communications and are unable to provide input, feedback or best-practice information quickly and accurately back to corporate headquarters. According to the study, manufacturers that have addressed the issue of e-mail inequality have been able to improve the quality of their output. For instance, some reported being able to ensure greater adherence to standards, and reduced re-working of manufactured products as a result of enhanced collaboration between the factory floor and design departments. Others reported a reduction in administrative costs and in the amount of time spent in meetings. Many firms that have implemented deskless e-mail use shared PCs in break rooms or canteens, mobile devices and Internet kiosks. "The study clearly shows that e-mail equality in the workplace impacts the bottom line by boosting productivity, efficiency, quality and accountability," says John Ore, director of product marketing at Sendmail. "The manufacturing sector has been quickest to spot these potential benefits and has led the way in implementing innovative solutions to begin bringing e-mail access to deskless staff. However, with 50% of employees having access to e-mail, that's still only half way down the path to full e-mail equality."

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