Email is the default communication tool for business and email overload an often discussed topic. Most people start the day by catching up on email, wading through the unnecessary messages you’ve been copied on, prioritising those which need urgent attention and skipping over those which you’ll get to later.
Email volumes vary but if you’re anything like me, a typical week could result in hundreds of emails and hours of wasted time not to mention the constant distraction and frustration it causes.
So is there a better way? Can you reduce the volume of email and unnecessary noise and reclaim hours of your day to better use elsewhere? A great place to start is with internal email and there is an opportunity to be quite radical.
It may seem dramatic but I strongly advocate a “no internal email” policy. Over the past few years a new generation of collaboration tools like Chatter (by Salesforce.com) and Yammer (by Microsoft) are increasing in popularity and fundamentally changing the culture in organisations. Rather than send an email to your colleague, your team or your company each time you need to communicate something you can now write a post.
Chatter in particular enables you to write that post in a contextual location, whether that is an opportunity your sales team is working on, a campaign your marketing team are running, a customer service case thats being managed or to a group which is used for company updates.
This is a more open approach to communication in your business, you can post updates without worrying who you need to cc, your updates will be consumed by those people who are interested in what you’re working on. Charlie Cowan wrote an excellent blog post 18 months ago on how adopting Chatter and other collaboration tools was like moving to big school.
Charlie’s post answers a common question: are businesses just shifting the deluge from email to Chatter posts? The important distinction is the ability for you to consume the information you’re interested in rather than being spoon fed.
Rolling out a new way of communicating in your organisation is challenging, not from a technology perspective but from a change management view. You are asking your team to rethink the way they interact, to be more open about what they say and to contribute to the on-going discussion.
The most important person to ensure sustainable success with this change is the CEO. If open, regular collaboration is to happen in the long term it has to start at the top and then everyone else in the business will follow. A great example of this can be found at financial services business Smartsalary. It talked about its experience using Chatter at a recent conference in Sydney – the video is a little shaky but the message is powerful.
Removing internal email from your business will have a dramatic effect. My email has dropped by more than 60 percent and I know more about what’s going on, things happen faster and I have a better start to my day.
Image credit: Chatter