Good morning, you just sent an email to 840,000 coworkers by mistake.
This sounds like it will be a Tuesday to remember.
According to this report, an employee who works for the National Health Service (NHS) in the U.K. sent an email by mistake to everyone at the company--almost a million people.
I'm not sure how that works--you almost have to try to send that many messages, although it's possible there is an "all employee" option. The fallout was quite severe.
First, out of the 840,000 recipients, many hit "reply all" to inform the original sender that the email was a mistake. This is a self-perpetuating problem, because the more each individual employee uses "replay all" the higher the chance of someone else telling everyone to stop. The right thing to do is ignore the message. A few users took to Twitter to complain since, you know--the only way to solve a problem is to tweet about it.
Another issue for the NHS? For that many emails, there is an incredible influx of outgoing messages when everyone responds, so it can cause email server problems.
This is the first case I've seen where a company issued a statement to explain why there might be an email problem and to let everyone know--in a web post, not by email--that things are back to normal. I can imagine the employee who sent the message hid in a broom closet all day.
I did a quick calculation on dealing with the email. It's probably overstating it, but let's say every employee spent one minute reading the email and deleting it. That's 1.5 years of wasted time. Add to this the fact that some responded and it's even more time.
As you might expect, this is where I talk about how much I detest email these days. It's inefficient and based on outdated technology. I've mentioned this on Twitter before, but there are people who I work with on a daily basis who have not emailed me in a year, mostly because we communicate on Convo or Slack all day. In some ways, email already is dead because we have relegated it as a place for newsletters and pitches.
Email almost seems quaint now. You have to wait for a response? No one else can see the message? You can't quickly go to a chat? Files are not saved in a library?
On Slack, it's extremely difficult to "spam" everyone in the company, because there is no way to send an individual message to everyone. You'd have to tag everyone in a public message, which would take time and isn't quite the same thing anyway. It's actually impossible due to how the system works. If you send an individual message, it becomes a one-to-one chat with that person, so no one could "reply all" to the message. This is one of the many advantages over email, as I've explained many times.
Usually, when people argue with me that email is not dying they bring up things like marketing newsletters, pitches send to people you don't know, and other kinds of outreach efforts. OK. So what am I missing there? Marketing folks need to figure out new ways to broadcast a message other than filling up our inboxes. Those who say email isn't dying don't have a great answer for why there are a dozen people I work with everyday who have not sent me an email in a year.
Most of us use collaborative software for communicating at work. With friends, we use messaging apps. Email is a tool we use with people we don't know or don't communicate with that often.
A shift is happening. Maybe the NHS is seriously thinking about that now.