June 26, 2009

Slow Down My E-mail and Slow Me Down Too

Even if I may like to gain access to early versions of cutting-edge Web tools and communications apps, there is simply no replacement for e-mail. It remains my starting point to my information consumption each day, and the major thoroughfare for communication, even as I pile on all sorts of social networking activity on its head. Simple access to all my e-mail accounts from any location has become expected, and when anything happens to get in the way, the results are visible right away.

Over the last few weeks, I have been getting worse about responding to e-mail quickly, not due to any lack of interest on my part, or even the result of an increasing workload. Instead, a new working environment, and new rules from IT, are turning processes which should be a snap into an obstacle course - ostensibly keeping them safer, but at a clear cost to me, and I am sure many of you see similar issues.

The first impact comes from the office's hard and fast rule against supporting POP3 activity on the company network. No doubt a preventative move to reduce potential exposure to e-mail borne viruses and malware, or even a move to reduce the export of confidential data, this move means that instead of getting all my Mobile Me mail quickly into my Mail.app, and responding rapidly, I am forced to read messages through the Webmail equivalent or on the iPhone. As we all know, Apple's Webmail for Mobile Me is substandard - with failure being more frequent than success, and the latency has me seeing red, so I tend to view my accounts on the iPhone and delete junk, before responding to a select few and hoping the Mobile Me gods are happy that moment. Usually, they aren't.

So, while my in box was once somewhat clean, it's piling up, and I'm looking less responsive. It's already led to some missed stories, and people resending messages to be sure I got them the first time.

The second impact runs in the opposite direction. Office Exchange mail is not supported on the iPhone - only on company Blackberries (or through Webmail). Now, this means that if I am away from the office, or not at the laptop, I am literally away from company mail.

I haven't seen the official rule on this one, in terms of why iPhones are not supported. Suffice it to say that "it's just the way it is", and that's probably not changing soon. It could be an issue of not wanting to field more outside requests, or a training issue, but this too slows down my responding to messages, accepting calendar invites, or generally feeling connected.

The combination of these two issues finds me doing a lot of e-mail from home, after getting appropriate network access speeds secured, responding to fewer messages or in shorter length, or generally feeling like I am running an uphill battle. It's almost like I am being penalized for going into the office, when things actually go faster from the couch.

And yes, before I hear the cries for me to move to GMail, I am aware that solves issue #1 (I assume), but it won't fix issue #2, and I don't believe I should have to swap out the address I have used for nearly a decade due to this issue.

For those of you who are under similar limits, how do you handle finding roadblocks put in your way?

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