Growth Customer Experience Productivity Business IQ Trends Success Stories Tech Solutions Awards Business Tools Subscribe Tech Enquiry
Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

With the growing backlash against one of the workplace's most used and abused communication tools, are we ready to abandon email in the pursuit of greater office productivity?

The modern information worker is drowning in their inbox, and the daily ritual of email triage makes it harder and harder to actually get things done. Bombardments from the dreaded Reply All button have become an internal block on workplace productivity. Email can also perpetuate the 24/7 work ethic that can be detrimental to the health of staff and the business as a whole.

Shadows cascade against an old style letterbox

Time to pull the plug?

The back and forth nature of email started as a blessing. You could reply to messages when it suited you, rather than being interrupted by a telephone call – which requires your immediate attention – or else playing phone tag with people who are never available to take your call.

But for email to survive as a business tool it must be used efficiently, otherwise it makes us busy rather than productive. We engage in long and convoluted email exchanges, which could have been quickly resolved simply by talking to the person in the next cubicle. This problem is made worse by the fact that some people only skim incoming emails, firing off a quick response to the first question while ignoring the rest.

Increasingly, businesses are turning to a combination of tools including business-focused applications and project management tools to help improve the flow of information.

 

What are the alternatives?

Email still has its place, just as we continued to post letters after the invention of the telephone and continued to make phone calls after the arrival of email, SMS and instant messaging. The challenge is knowing which tool is best for the job at hand.

The immediate nature of instant messaging can be a more efficient tool when a quick response is required. When people think of "IM" they think of Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messager and others, but there are business-grade alternatives. There are the usual suspects aimed at big businesses like Microsoft Office Communications Server, Cisco Unified Presence and IBM Lotus Sametime, but also options for small businesses like Slack, HipChat, and Campfire.

Microsoft, Google and Zoho all offer Instant Messaging features, plus their online office suites also let multiple users edit the same document simultaneously and add comments. This can be far more practical than emailing document revisions and struggling with version control. Meanwhile many project management tools like Basecamp, AceProject and Zoho Projects feature communication tools which might serve better than email when discussing specific projects. Training tools like Zunos also have communication and collaboration features.

How do you make email work for your business?

Rather than going cold turkey on email within your business, there are a few guidelines you might introduce to help email work for you rather than against you.

Write concise emails with descriptive subject lines. Get to the point, without being rude, and make it clear exactly what you need from the recipient. If an email becomes too long and complicated it's less likely to be effective, so a phone call or face-to-face conversation might be a more efficient way to resolve the issue.

Keep group emails to a minimum and avoid the Reply All button where possible. If your business is plagued by group emails, consider whether these conversations should be moved to collaboration or project management tools.

Email isn't dying, but it needs to be kept in check so it doesn't choke your business. Small businesses of the future will use email sparingly to ensure that staff spend less time in their inbox and more time on the job.

Looking to make your business more efficient?

Have a look at how Zunos can help kickstart your workflow.

Find out more

Chris Kasapis from CKAS Mechatronics
Tech Solutions
Tech Solutions
4 small businesses talk nbn™

What are the business benefits of the National Broadband Network (nbn™)? Telstra Smarter Business speaks with 4 small business owners about what has changed since leveraging hi...

Twitter Headquarters San Francisco Canteen
Business IQ
Business IQ
Leadership lessons from Airbnb and Twitter

Airbnb and Twitter both can offer some brilliant lessons in scaling up to achieve global supremacy. Though as Morris Kaplan explains, leaders of fast-growth companies rarely ge...

woman sat on desk whilst hugging latptop screen
Tech Solutions
Tech Solutions
How Cloud computing can really save your business

IT experts have been praising the cost savings and productivity boosts of cloud storage technology for years. But what does that mean for small businesses in the real world? It...

Christmas criminal Christmas present
Business IQ
Business IQ
Steer clear of net nasties this christmas

Think twice before opening that digital Christmas card or clicking on that festive-looking link, internet security experts and consumer authorities warn. That animated Santa Cl...