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Emails Are Helping Your Organisation To Reuse...but it can be better.

Want to know why emails are holding your organisation back from effective reuse?

It's natural for staff to use email rings to try and reuse furniture, because at first glance it's quick and easy.

In this article we’re going to discuss the dos and do nots of using email to reuse office furniture.


Bow down to the sacred inbox!

People’s email inboxes are sacred, so don’t be clogging them up with stuff that they don’t care about. Your inbox is sacred. Our inbox is sacred. It’s holy. It’s revered. Remember this rhyme - if it’s misdirected or missent, treat it with contempt!

Inbox: 2736 messages. We bet you know someone whose inbox has got on top of them and thousands of emails sit there unopened, unanswered, holding a number in a little red bubble. All this clogging stops you doing work and it makes you less effective. If you’re manually emailing people trying to get them to reuse furniture, you’re taking up a lot of their time and inbox space.

If it takes 30 seconds to read your email, here’s the effect you’re having…

Comparison with Warp It: Even if you set up a furniture email group. Members will be getting emails when they don;t need furniture. With Warp It members can set a "wishlist" and only get notificed about specific items.

Email adds to workplace stress and can be toxic, for evidence of this, read this study. A better solution would be to give staff control of what notifications they receive.

email newsring header green chairs.jpg

Impact in big numbers

The impact of one email on one person isn't too bad, but on 200 people, it’s much greater. 30 seconds, over 200 people, well, that's 100 minutes of time in your organisation that’s being wasted. These are people's lives! Do you want to stop people being productive? Of course not.

Emails are not really free, and they're not really easy, because they cost time, and a lot of it.

The better option is to have a wishlist function where people are notified of items they are looking for, only when they appear on the system.

Matching up needs and wants

Email systems are not easy when you need to match up assets either. It's super hard to manage transactions because of demand. If you post 100 desks to an email newsring of 1,000 people, you might get 200 people saying, "Yes, I'll have a desk." Then you have to scroll through those messages to see who wants one. Some of the messages will be questions without a commitment. Some will be half question half commitment. Each one of those emails has to be read. How do you choose who gets which one first? It could be sooooo much easier to manage. 

A better way would be to have software control all of this so that everyone knows who gets what.


Comparison with Warp It: On Warp It if you add 100 desks. One person can take 20, another 30, etc and the system tracks who gets what- they all get a notification and the person giving away the desks does not need to keep track. 



Managing foibles

Let's say we choose 100 people who are going to get the desks - it’s the first ones that say yes. Then we hear "Yes, I can have one, but in two weeks' time," or "Yes I can have one, but can I come and bring my horse and cart to collect it” (this has actually happened). Of the first 100 that say yes, many might be poor quality leads, and the remainder will be disappointed.

When these 100 desks need to be cleared, we've got to communicate with these 100 people. Half of them won't turn up, so we’re going to have 50 desks left over. We are then going to re-email the whole group and say, "we've still got 50 desks left." It's a mess via email, it's waste of time, energy and effort. There are real hidden costs to running a reuse email system like that.

A better way would be to have an automatic notifications system which tells staff how they should transfer assets and if staff then decide they don’t want them, the others who missed out should get a notification.

Comparison with Warp It: If someone changes their mind, they can cancel the claim and the asset is re listed automatically. 



Fashionably late

Even when we get rid of these desks, months later, there’s always someone who is late to the party, and they email about these desks, and we've got to say, "Sorry, these desks are gone. We've got some new ones now."

You've got a whole mess of people trading stuff, and just emails back and forward, clogging up people's inboxes, getting lost in cyberspace.

The better option is an online system which informs latecomers that they have missed out, but that they should add the item to their wishlist so they are first in the queue for next time.


Comparison with Warp It: On Warp It once all the items are claimed or they expire they drop off the system. 

Meeting Tennis! “When’s best for you mate?”

It could be like this, "Yeah, can I come over and see it?", "Yes, can you meet me there at three o'clock?", "No, I can't make three o'clock, can you do four o'clock?", "No, I'll do five o'clock", "Oh no sorry, I pick up the kids at five o'clock", "Can we do it the 28th?", "Oh, can't do the 28th, I'm having coffee with Mary."

The better option is to have an online marketplace where people can view the item without the need to meet and discuss.


Comparison with Warp It; Warp It presents the items in a martketplace view with up to 11 photos and an ask the question button


Measurement of positive impact?

Tracking the benefits of reuse is really important to increase participation and investment. Somebody at some point wants to measure the impact of your furniture reuse mailbase. Someone has to go through and count up how many tables and chairs were traded. But guess what? You don't know, it’s lost in a sea of messages, or, nobody confirmed when the tables and chairs were collected.

Warp It Comparison A better way would be to automatically track the benefits, like this.


Addicted to email?

Having an email ring is a nice gateway activity for introducing reuse practises into your organisation. It should only ever be done for a really short period of time though. Now, there's one big problem. Emails are really easy, so people are addicted to sending them. When you get to the point of weaning people off your email list, this is what we suggest that you do:

  1. Point them to this blog post, which gives the logic and the reasons why email rings are a waste of time for reuse.
  2. Notify them well in advance that the email newsring is going to shut down, or at least be used for other things.
  3. Find champions and influencers that use the email newsring, and persuade them that coming over to the new system is going to be much better for them.
  4. Recognise that you're going to have to attract those who will whinge about having to change behaviour, and having to move onto this new system. Have a plan to deal with these people.
  5. Book in a 10 minute telephone consultation below!

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Daniel O'Connor

Daniel O'Connor

I use my time and experience to contribute to the transition to a regenerative sustainable society for all.


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