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.