How collaboration is killing email

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Collaboration killing emailAccording to Deloitte, “the average employee now spends over one-quarter of the workday reading and answering emails.” We’re always connected and have become slaves to our mobile devices, spending additional hours after work just checking our emails. These everyday email habits are believed to be adversely affecting our productivity and our ability to collaborate.

Collaboration tools are fast becoming an alternative to email and in some cases companies have removed the use of email altogether for internal communications. Collaboration tools are being used to simplify communication in the workplace and increase everyone’s productivity by cutting down some of the time-wasting involved in emailing. There are now a myriad of enterprise-grade collaboration tools available to companies who are looking for alternatives to email.

So what’s wrong with email?

There are several reasons why email has become less effective as a communication and collaborative tool: Less work gets done because too much time is wasted waiting for someone to reply to an email to commence a task or make a decision.

  • Team conversations are not best done on email. Email is ideal for one-on-one conversation. When it involves a group, tracking a conversation becomes impossible after a number of email exchanges.
  • It’s hard to keep track of the most current version of documents shared as attachments.
  • It’s nearly impossible to maintain clarity about what needs to get done, and by whom. Conversations in email get lost in translation.
  • Work never stops when you leave the office or take a holiday.

What are these tools for collaboration?

The key business collaboration tools have been designed to help teams communicate and work together more effectively. There are tools for project management, online meetings, team chats, group brainstorming, task sharing, and more. Some of the most common tools are:

1. Skype for Business, WebEx, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts. Conversations are best done online, using audio or video, and not in your inbox. If your business relies heavily on meetings, you need one of these reliable communications platforms.

a. Skype for Business (formerly Microsoft Lync). This is a platform that makes it easy to find and connect with co-workers. Everything you need for conversations is here – IM, audio and video calls, online meetings and sharing. Microsoft not only included the features most customers liked about Lync (e.g. Quick Actions buttons), but also added a fresh new interface with simplified controls and more features (e.g. Call Monitor, use of desk phone for audio, emoticons, etc.). With Skype for Business, up to 250 people can join meetings as long as they have a landline phone or Internet connection. Meanwhile, the free consumer version of Skype is a good start for businesses who want get familiar with the platform’s functions.

b. WebEx lets you view multiple video feeds and shared content side by side. With the WebEx platform, you have the option to share with others your entire screen or just a specified application.

c. GoToMeeting has audio, video, and screen-sharing capabilities. Launching a meeting can be done via phone, email, or instant message. It allows a group (up to 100 attendees) and private chat, with one-click recording, on-screen drawing tools, free mobile apps, etc.

d. Google Hangouts works right inside your Gmail or it can be downloaded as an app (for Android and Apple devices). It allows you to have a live video call with up to 10 people or start a voice call with a colleague from your computer.

2. Google Drive for Work, Dropbox for Business, and Microsoft OneDrive for Business. File sharing is best done using any of these services. Rather than attaching important files or documents in your emails, you can avail of the basic package from any of these file sharing platforms and enjoy extra storage and smart functionalities.

a. Google Drive for Work allows for real time collaboration and also keeps track of changes to documents.

b. Dropbox for Business has broad support for a multitude of mobile devices, and allows users to remotely wipe data on a lost device.

c. OneDrive for Business lets you share your files and control who can see and edit each file. OneDrive for Business is fully integrated with Microsoft Office, so therefore it’s quick and easy to create, edit and review documents with others in real time.

3. Sharepoint, Wryke, and Smartsheet. Tracking the progress of a project through emails is not only cumbersome, it’s also an inefficient business practice. A project management tool or solution is a much more effective way to get the job done and keep everyone on the same page. It allows you to monitor through a team site the progress of all company projects, in terms of time management and individual project stages. You can use these tools as a cloud-based solution or on premise.

a. Sharepoint is the new way to work on projects as a team. It offers security, advanced yet easy-to-manage tools, and accessibility to any device from any location. Whether it’s sales, marketing or accounting, your teams can create a SharePoint site for their various projects, and manage them more easily and efficiently. Yammer, Microsoft’s enterprise social network, can also be integrated with Sharepoint for even better team collaboration.

b. Wryke provides a detailed view of your team’s workload so you can track overall progress and individual contribution. It breaks large goals into manageable tasks, lets you attach files, and set deadlines. You can attach images and files to your project plan right from your phone, Google Drive, or Dropbox.

c. Smartsheet has a familiar and easy to adopt spreadsheet-like interface that’s perfect for real-time team collaboration and task and workflow management. There are calendar and reminder tools to help you manage time, and a built-in app for easy file sharing. It also has advanced reporting tools so you can easily link multiple data elements and produce a quick summary.

There are many benefits to reducing reliance on email such as:

1. Your business will save tremendous amounts of time and effort. Checking and replying to emails eats a big chunk of everyone’s time. If you invest in a tool that will eliminate the unnecessary activities you do in your inbox, you will be able to prioritise and respond to the tasks which are more urgent.

2. There’s less confusion amongst your employees. Emails get lost, forgotten or misinterpreted. It’s best if you have a common dashboard where all the information is shared at one time with just the right audience.

3. You can all think of more efficient ways of doing things. With less email exchanges, your employees will be forced to communicate with each other more regularly using available tools which are more direct and yield faster results.

4. You will see an increase in productivity
. The extra time you save from not checking your emails can be used for other business critical tasks.

In other countries, apart from using collaboration tools, there are companies implementing after-work email policies which basically forbid their employees from accessing their emails after work. In France, for example, it’s policy to shut down your phone and computer after 6 p.m. Whilst at Volkswagen Headquarters in Germany, email servers are turned off 30 minutes before the end of working day.

Years ago it was unthinkable to suggest a workplace without emails, now it is not far from happening. Collaboration tools offer the simplicity and reliability for effective team work and collaboration. By providing your employees with a solution that is easy to use, highly functional, and streamlines work communication, you can boost productivity and engagement throughout your company.

If you need expert advice on which collaboration tool is best fit for your business needs, contact us.