Email fatigue, we all have it. You come into work after a day off and you’re greeted by an overflowing inbox demanding your attention.
There is no questioning that emails have their place – they are a fantastic tool when used in the right way. They are perfect for private one-on-one conversations and have cemented their place as a lasting stalwart in the business world.
However, when it comes to communication tools – particularly in relation to group communication – there are alternatives to email that feel inclusive, open and seamless, and integrate with your existing email platforms to create lasting cohesive communications across your business.
As the way we work continues to evolve, effective communication is more crucial than ever. Now is the time to utilise the best collaboration tools to drive efficiencies in an ever-changing, and increasingly remote work environment. This means embracing new technology, and being more discerning about when and how we use the tools available to us.
Spend your time wisely
When it comes to communicating as a team, choosing the most productive, efficient platform is key. While one-on-one emails are great for private conversations, group emails, we know, can quickly clog up an inbox, be difficult to follow and can often take more time to read than a quick conversation between peers.
For business owners it’s important to utilise the tools available in many software packages in the most effective way possible. This means using emails, video, group chats together to communicate in the most efficient way and increase productivity. If you have a software package, chances are you already have a suite of tools available to you that can integrate with your email, and completely transform the way you do business – for the better.
Embracing alternatives to email allows you to spend more time being productive, says Evan Williams, Microsoft 365 Lead at Microsoft.
Williams says Australian workplaces are shifting from siloed, individual work to more collaborative, team-based efforts.
“If you think about it, it’s quite rare to be working on a project that doesn’t involve a team of people. And those people may be coming from different parts of a business, they may be located in different places and they may even be external, such as one of your suppliers.”
In this scenario, Williams says working in an integrated, digital hub, like Microsoft Teams, lets everyone share documents, engage in group chats, set up conference calls and schedule meetings.
“Communication is more streamlined as we’ve removed the formality of email, information is much easier to find as conversations happen within the project/task area and overall, you’re spending less time in the inbox and more time being productive.
“At the end of the day, it’s really about have one place for everything, for everyone.”
Australian small business productivity consultant Debbie Eglin of Productivity Hub manages an offshore team. For her, communicating via email didn’t make sense when it came to communicating as a remote team.
“We have a daily video meeting to discuss business priorities, plus we converse around particular projects and tasks directly within our project platform – where we can also share documents and have water cooler conversations via chat message.”
By removing the barriers created when using a one-on-one tool – such as email – for the purpose of team discussions, Eglin has found a way to make her team as productive, and collaborative, as possible.
Five ways to use email alternatives for effective communication
Before you start to inundate your colleagues, clients and suppliers with emails, it’s important to consider what the best method of communication would be, and utilising the tools that are available in your existing business software. By using tools across the same software packages you have better opportunities for integration and cohesion throughout your business.
1. For getting quick answers to simple questions:
Instant messaging platforms are a great way to get an immediate response from a colleague. This tool will help you avoid being in a queue of emails and clogging up your colleague’s inbox in the process.
2. For making decisions with multiple stakeholders
Group chat is a great way to get everybody in the same space, and sharing their feedback in real time. Rather than navigating email chains you can see a whole conversation in one long stream.
3. For conducting meetings and discussing ideas
Where group chat is great for group conversations, video conferencing provides a better space for meetings and in-depth conversations. In fact, video conferencing has many of the benefits of face-to-face meetings, offering you the chance to share screens, and meet face to face, from anywhere in the world.
4. For sharing content while managing version control
File sharing is an incredible tool, and much more cohesive than sending multiple version of attachments in email form, making version control difficult, which leaves too much room for error.
5. For issuing staff bulletins and sharing other business details
Business social networks are a great tool for delivering internal comms, creating a space for business-specific news that could otherwise be lost in a stream of emails.
While all of these tools are incredibly valuable, they go hand-in-hand with email, which still remains one of the most effective tools for one-on-one communication. When all of these tools are working together you are giving your business the best opportunity to be at its most productive, and more than likely avoiding communication breakdowns that can damage a business.
*Included in the Office 365 Business Essentials and Office 365 Business Premium subscription.
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