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Lines of Communication

June 13, 2011

This being more than a decade into a new century you'd think we'd have our jet packs and flying cars already. Or more importantly perhaps, weren't we all supposed to be working from home by now?
Telecommuting was supposed to be the future. And I see why corporate America doesn't switch over to that model (both for good and bad reasons). But one of the many drawbacks of working in an office together has to be the tendency to share news and information via word of mouth. This is good for informal chatter or tentative things you can't commit to official writing yet. But it also allows the important folks to procrastinate on making decisions. They can verbally tell a subordinate to go in one direction, and not have to take blame for switching course a few weeks or days or hours later.
It also means there's a plethora of emails that go unanswered. Both because people are slacking and not responding, but also because the official response that can be done in email becomes a lot more serious. It's the new memo or fax of today and while it doesn't always have to be formalized you know that, like what goes out on the internet, it will be there forever. Your words will be around and you will have to commit to what you wrote about or write a retraction email, the great shame giver.
But in my case it means waiting for direction and not getting it because once it's in writing it goes. And the higher ups may have their reasons for delaying, but it can be frustrating when you're dealing with an internal or external customer that expects an answer and you have to tell them your superiors are just sitting around ruminating on it rather than sending a quick yay or nay via email.
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