Is work email dead?

by Mike Sharkey

Once seen as the most effective way to communicate, organisations are now looking for ways to reduce email. We look at why people are choosing to connect with collaboration tools rather than with email.

If you're finding yourself deluged with emails, you're not alone. The average office worker spends 4.1 hours checking work emails each day. That's over 20 hours a week and more than 1,000 hours a year. And, more often than not, they're not even relevant to the task at hand.

Organisations are looking at ways to communicate more effectively than with email

That's why organisations are increasingly looking at other ways to communicate more effectively and efficiently. Collaboration software which integrates with tools that people already use is helping to shape the future of business. Here's why.

Rise of the remote workforce

With an increasing number of workplaces offering flexible and mobile working, it's becoming more important for employers to equip their staff with the right tools for when they're not physically in the office.

Instant messaging and video chats are ideal for work conversations that require fast responses

Email is OK as a communication tool that you can use to pick up messages at the start and end of the day. But it's not very effective for collaboration – particularly for remote teams or when you need to make quick decisions. Tools such as instant messaging and video chats are ideal for informal work conversations that require fast responses.

Less is more

The past decade has seen a surge in social platforms. Businesses can capitalise on social technologies to improve interaction between employees.

For one thing, social media is straight to the point. This avoids having to wade through lengthy emails that take several paragraphs to get to the crux of the matter. Of course, there are times when only a formal email will do, but when a long response isn't necessary, it's handy to have a platform that encourages brief replies.

Save time and boost productivity

With less reliance on email and more on collaboration tools, people can get more get done. Employees can use their time more effectively and they solve problems quickly.

If it's taking too long over chat, simply convert the messages to a voice or HD video call with one click

For example, instead of emailing back and forth to arrange a phone call, employees can use platforms such as Workplace Chat to locate colleagues and identify if they're available. And if it's still taking too long over chat, people can convert the exchange to a voice or HD video call with one click. Time saved. Decision made. Job done.

Real-time communication

Think the IT team is ignoring your emails? It could be because they're trying to solve a crisis elsewhere. Collaboration tools can inform people about what teams are working on in different departments. This can prevent departments being inundated with queries at their busiest times. If you know when other teams that you work with are either busy or quiet, you can reorganise your day around them accordingly.

Better project management

Instead of emailing updated versions of the same projects for remote workers to edit separately, you can reduce email by centralising the management of tasks.

Work in the same file at the same time using the tool that your organisation already uses

With Workplace, for example, you can integrate tools that you already use to assign tasks individually or to a group. If there are multiple users, they can all work in the same file at the same time using the cloud solution that your organisation prefers, such as Quip or G Suite.

Retaining critical information

With email, it can be hard to keep track of a conversation. When several people are having their say, important information can get lost in the noise. Threaded commenting makes everything much easier to organise. Users can jump in and out of existing threads and branch off into other topics, and they'll receive notifications whenever they have new messages or replies to posts.

What next for email?

While we're seeing an increase in instant messaging, social networking and other collaborative tools, email continues to grow. In fact, technology research company Radicati expects the number of emails sent per day to grow from more than 280 billion in 2018 to almost 320 billion by 2021.

So perhaps the predictions of its demise have been somewhat exaggerated.

But the world of work evolves. Millennials continue to join the workforce. People increasingly expect ways of working that are open by default, mobile-first and connected.

And as this happens, the influence of email is set to decline as other tools become more compatible with today's modern workforce.

Watch how Danone is using Workplace to reduce email and share ideas. And try Workplace Premium free for 90 days.

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