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How many emails have you received today that you have been cc’d on? How many of them were really important? While there are good reasons for the existence of CC-Mails, many of them aren't really necessary. Usually CC-Mails are well-intended. After all, you don't want to exclude anyone and keep everyone up to date. However, e-mail copies often become a given in the communication culture of companies. That takes time: According to a study, people in interactive positions spend around 28% of their workweek managing emails.

This article shows why CC email is so prevalent and offers tips to make CC communications more meaningful.

Reading time 4 minutes.

In this article:

  • Why emails with cc are anchored in corporate communications
  • How e-mails with cc can interfere with internal communication
  • 4 tips for better corporate communication - How to reduce the number of your cc-mails
  • What it takes to establish a better communication culture

Why emails with cc are anchored in corporate communications

E-mails are one of the central communication tools to this day. And the bigger the company, the higher the average number of cc mails. CC stands for “Carbon Copy”, a term from the typewriter era, when carbon paper was used to make copies. The first email that was sent in Germany in 1984 already contained a CC recipient.

Most cc-mails are well-intended. You want to keep everyone up to date on the project status, not exclude anyone, safely document and share decisions. CC-Mails serve as an attempt to reinforce mutual trust in the team and to maintain the flow of information. However, email is not always the best way to achieve this.

How e-mails with CC affect internal communication

When e-mails with CC are used to exchange information, which actually requires synchronous or archive-based communication, teams often fall into the following traps:

  • Chat trap – Small replies or confirmations like "Thanks for the update" lead to additional e-mails and notifications for all recipients.
  • Relevance trap – With most CC mails, it is not clear to the recipient how relevant the information is and whether there is a need for action. It takes time to find that out.
  • Progress trap – Frustration and misunderstandings arise when multiple topics are discussed simultaneously, or important decisions get lost in email threads.
  • Courtesy trap – Due to the pressure of everyone reading along, you deal with minor things longer than necessary, such as polite phrasing and correct wording.

4 tips for better corporate communication - How to reduce the number of your CC-Mails

If you want to optimize your CC culture, you need a little patience. The best results can be achieved if different types and needs of communication are taken into account and trust is slowly built up in alternative approaches:

  • Set up a CC rule in the e-mail program – make sure that your e-mails end up in a separate inbox. You can then check these at specific times, for example 1-2 times a day, instead of being constantly distracted.
  • Put into question whether e-mail is the right channel for the topic and promote alternatives – Not everything has to be communicated via e-mail. Create another framework for the exchange of information. If no other options for information exchange are available to the employees, it is to be expected that CC-Mails will be used.
  • If you need to make a decision, use synchronous communication first - Avoid using e-mail as a chat. If you do, everyone in CC has to constantly read along. If several participants must provide input, synchronous communication via chat or a meeting is more suitable. This way you can find the solution in a small group, and then share the conclusion with everyone else through e-mail.
  • Collect updates - Instead of sending an update for little things, you can collect updates and send them with a regular update email. This makes it easier to find information. A fixed agreement on when reports on the current project status will be shared saves the effort of sending many short emails and promotes the feeling of security within the team.

What it takes to establish a more efficient communication culture

One of the reasons CC mail spreads is because of the sense of security it provides. In order to change the CC behavior, recipients have to trust that they will be informed about important things in good time. Clear structures and alternative forms of communication, which are accepted by everyone on the team are also necessary. The often deeply anchored communication patterns can hardly be changed on their own. However, creating awareness of this is worthwhile. Because a functioning communication culture has a direct effect on the motivation and efficiency of the team.

Would you like some support? This is how Octaved Flow helps.

Octaved Flow is a software that improves internal communication in teams. With Boards, Octaved Flow provides a central communication platform that takes crucial topics such as project management, coordination and updates out of the e-mail sphere.

All information is sorted by topic in the Board and can easily be found. Colleagues in the team can be addressed task-related and agreements or approvals are documented centrally. Every team member is sure to receive all important information and be able to look it up at any time. Boards automatically establish the flow of information and trust.

Flow instead of CC - reduce the number of emails with Boards!

The advantages:

  • Central communication platform
  • Central access to information in the Board
  • Always see the current project status
  • Approval requests directly in the Board
  • Information sorted by topic