The mailroom was the heart of the organisation 20 years ago – handling hundreds or thousands of letters and parcels every day. The mailbox was a standard fixture, being pushed around the floors twice a day. But with the advent of email, the amount of post has reduced; and with companies such as Capita offering business such as outsourcing and mail scanning, the mailroom is a shadow of its former self. Documents such as pitches are emails rather than printed and bound, so even the reprographics element has reduced. FMJ asks, what is the future of today’s mailroom?
Twenty years ago almost all communications that flowed in and out of an organisation went through the mailroom. Piles of paper, the mail trolley, pigeon holes, franking machines and letter opening devices were commonplace. Indeed, conduct a few interviews on the subject and you’ll start to believe that offices were made up of little else. Of course in order to operate such sizeable operations required equally large workforces, three or four hundred people per mailroom seems about right. Some of the larger companies employed more postmen than the Royal Mail.
Of course I exaggerate, but it certainly seems that in most people’s eyes the Golden Age of the Mailroom, like comic books and rock ‘n’ roll, is long gone.
The advent of email and mobile phones has reduced the need for hard copy mail.
Documents and pitches are now usually sent digitally so even the need for reprographics departments has lessened.
This is not to say that the mailroom doesn’t still have a very important role to play in the modern office, and also the office of the future, just that it has been forced to adapt, take on a new role and will likely have to continue to do so in the coming years.
People have the perception that digital technology is strangling physical mail to death, but James Griffiths, business development director, UK and Ireland, Pitney Bowes Global Mailing Solutions insists this is not the case. Whilst it is true that much of a companies messages, both internal and external, are sent via the internet and the walks between companies have been replaced by courier services, mail still remains relevant.
THE DIGITAL WORLD
“Even in today’s digital world, mail remains relevant. Mailing technology is compressing delivery times and allowing an unprecedented level of customer targeting for marketing,” Griffiths says.
“In addition, this technology is enabling businesses to integrate their physical mailings with digital forms of communication to extract even more commercial value from the physical mail channel.
With email, mobile apps, catalogues, QR codes, mail pieces, and the potential for augmented reality, modern technology helps tie together the physical and digital worlds.
This makes it easier for businesses to conduct more effective marketing campaigns and reach prospects around the world – the modern mailroom has adapted to accommodate this.”
Griffiths is certain that the mailroom is far from an anachronism.
“Incoming premium mail services such as Royal Mail’s signed-for products still require receiving, logging, distributing and reporting on,” he points out.
“Also all communication processes need managing and the mail room remains at the heart of this, especially for physical items. Sorting, sizing, packaging, pricing, ordering, distributing and reporting are common tasks provided by the mailroom.”
There is also the fact that the intended recipients of mail today are also more likely to be working from a variety of different locations than they were 20 years ago – from remote offices, or from home, for example. This means that communications need to be agile and the modern mail room needs to support this through flexible and innovative working technologies.