Group Emails in the Virtual Office

Group emails are very effective for keeping a virtual office team together: daily status reports are a particular effective special case. One of their advantages is that the emails can be targeted to just the people who'll be interested in them.

A common form of group email is a discussion between two people, replicated to many others so they can remain informed. Managers often like to be cc'ed on emails, which provides a cheap way for them to keep up to speed on the various details flying around within the group. By "lurking" in such email conversations they keep a finger on the team's pulse at no cost to the team members.

Another useful group-email function is when one person acts as a filter for others. This person subscribes to a mailing list or a newsgroup and prunes its output to just the small list of items of interest to others in the group, then forwards those items to the others. The readers of this super-moderated mailing list send the pruner feedback on the sorts of items that they're interested in, allowing the pruner to fine tune the quantity of items that make it through the filtering process.

If three people each filter a mailing list in this way, it saves the group time compared to each person self-filtering all the messages in all the groups. The system works best if the pruner is the person in the group most interested in the output from that mailing list, so that s/he can see the unfiltered output to make sure nothing potentially important slips by. The recipients of the pruned output are trading off the savings of hours of time per week at the cost of missing 5% of the potentially useful messages due to overpruning.

Substantive changes:
    March 25, 1996: created.
    April 16, 1996: people who filter.
Copyright © 1996, Steve Colwell, All Rights Reserved
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