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My office is doing teleworking. My team's secretary is forwarding every day several (5 on average) emails that I already received through a general mailing list.

I want to tell them that we already get the emails and there is no need for them to forward those emails to us.

The problem? It is well known that they have little work to do and I do not want them to feel useless (maybe they already feel like that, which is the reason why they might be trying to help out by sending the emails in the first place). I have been unable to find the right balance of words.

I do not want to offend them but I desperately want to stop the emails because it duplicates stuff, particularly in this period where emails themselves doubled or tripled. I cannot block them because they also send relevant stuff.

How can I tell them they don't have to forward those emails?

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  • Wouldn't it take less energy than all other options to delete 5 messages a day? – Yosef Baskin Apr 23 '20 at 15:04
  • Why can't you just tell the secretary that you already subscribe to the mailing list and to not forward email from that list to you? Obviously forwarding 5 emails a day isn't a huge part of their day so it's not going to impact them all that much. – DaveG Apr 23 '20 at 16:40
  • Are they easily offended? Secretaries often work directly with those higher up, if you're so worried about offending them, I'd just let it be and delete the emails. How much time do you really save by asking here, writing an email, possibly missing out on stuff you haven't subscribed to compared to just 5 emails a day? I don't know how big your team is, but them having to remember who receives what newsletter seems like more work than you deleting 5 more emails. Could you elaborate why you are so worried? Does everyone in your team receive those emails? Isn't that the job of the team lead? – Raditz_35 Apr 23 '20 at 17:18
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Just tell them you are already getting the emails they are forwarding.

First you say this:

“I want to tell them that we already get the emails and there is no need for them to forward those emails to us.”

Then say this:

“It is well known that they have little work to do and I do not want them to feel useless…”

You are not hurting their feelings by telling them they are simply forwarding emails you already receive. And as far as “feel useless” goes, they really must be doing more than just forwarding emails. If somehow forwarding emails is their only role right now, they are not going to last long. And I don’t want to sound cold, but if they are unneeded right now in the midst of this global health crisis, you saying nothing about unwanted email forwarding won’t change much.

The reality is many workplaces are still (currently) paying the salary for staff whose role is greatly minimized now since hiring someone costs more in the long run than keeping them on staff. This is a strategic decision that ensures when we can all go back to the office, staff will be there and the first concern on everyone’s minds is not hiring new staff but gearing up to get back to office work.

While well intentioned you are simply being too polite. Speak up and let them know.

And honestly if you want to make them feel better while working remotely, see if you can ask them to do things for you that you genuinely need but can delegate to them.

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