Week 9 Drawing

Time taken by Enoch to reply his work emails on weeks 8 and 9

This week I started looking at how long I take to reply emails at work during week 8 and 9. This is done through looking through all the emails I replied in these two weeks, and measuring the difference between the time received and the time sent. Based on this drawing, I have managed to reply all my work emails within 24 hours. In fact, most emails I managed to reply within 60 minutes. There were several outliers, as those emails were in fact received on a Sunday.

This idea was inspired by recalling my time during undergraduate studies – how certain lecturers would explicitly say to students they would reply each email within 1 or 2 days etc. As an undergraduate student, I remember I liked the lecturers who replied quick, and disliked those who never replies – little did I know a lecturer’s mailbox is often inundated with lots of emails, and I certainly know better nowadays.

Nonetheless, for an institute/university, encouraging teachers’ or student-support staff’s timely reply to students’ emails can crucial for ensuring students satisfaction. As such, an institute could survey their staff for similar data as I have shown here, and estimate how much time each email would their staff generally take to reply. While difficult to reinforce, an institute could put forward “soft policy” to encourage timely feedback. As it is common practice to include students’ satisfaction as one of the parameters to inform teachers’ performance review and promotion decisions; if teachers can see a tangible correlation between timely reply of students emails and their students’ satisfaction, they would probably be encouraged to reply within say 24 hours.

1 thought on “Week 9 Drawing

  1. ‘In fact, most emails I managed to reply within 60 minutes.’

    Impressive. I can only aspire to that kind of efficiency.

    ‘little did I know a lecturer’s mailbox is often inundated with lots of emails, and I certainly know better nowadays.’

    Indeed, but some emails are more important than others, or at least require a quicker response. I wonder if there could be an additional layer to this kind of visualisation, showing a level of priority?

    ‘encouraging teachers’ or student-support staff’s timely reply to students’ emails can crucial for ensuring students satisfaction.’

    I can certainly see something like this being seen as valuable. I do wonder though if it values speed over quality. Perhaps someone would prefer to take an extra day in order to check a query with a colleague, or follow up with relevant information from a scheduled event, and it seems like that would be seen as negative rather than positive here.

    ‘While difficult to reinforce, an institute could put forward “soft policy” to encourage timely feedback.’

    Sure, but if there is data recording happening, one could see the incentive to use it.

    ‘if teachers can see a tangible correlation between timely reply of students emails and their students’ satisfaction, they would probably be encouraged to reply within say 24 hours.’

    I guess so. I’d wonder though, as above, if performativity would overtake meaningful contact. Rushing out a response in order to make the 24hr target might take precedence over a more thoughtful reply? It is interesting to imagine how this kind of measure would influence working practices.

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