Will email survive in workplaces of the future?
Did you know that 54% of the planet (that’s 3.7 billion people) are using email?
Even Wired had an article stating that email is broken, and asking if anyone (namely Silicon Valley) can fix it.
So here we are…
Using hacks to get to “inbox zero” every night…
Unsubscribing from the fabric store email list you joined while in downtown Los Angeles…
Chuckling at spam from blonde, leggy Russian singles that fell in love with your non-existent profile on some dating site…
While email is still the main form of reaching customers, is there a better way for teams to communicate with each other?
And will these new tools mean the end of email for good?
“You’ve got mail”
It’s no secret that email has its pitfalls for workers. In a 2015 study by Gloria Mark, professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, found that reading an email is known to increase stress, but typing and sending an email doesn’t.
Mark says companies know about the negative affect emails have on productivity. They’ve developed email systems that can “learn” a user’s preferences and intelligent agents that can manage email for people, like Gmail’s auto responses and Spark.
“Although we’re heading in this direction, we are still a long way from getting to a place where personal agents can handle all of our email communication and coordination for us,” says Mark.
So really, we’re still like this…
The times — and communications — are changing
Here are the most popular platforms that are already making in-roads to turn emails into a thing of the past:
One of the most popular internal-communications apps is Slack. Boasting NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as one of the teams using its services, it started life as a communications platform for Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield while he was part of a team creating online game, Glitch, in 2013. With Slack, you can set up channels with team members working on a project and send private messages in a single app.
Workplace By Facebook
The business version of Facebook is a familiar and simple collaboration platform available on desktop and mobile. Workplace By Facebook is like Facebook but is separate from your personal account with the work-related news feed, groups, messaging, events, video, auto-translate and other features, personalised to your projects, all in one location.
Packed with handy features, including to-do lists, message boards, real-time messaging (known as campfires), scheduling and more, Basecamp has made collaborating much more productive for 13 years. To date, more than 100,000 businesses have adopted this as their “base”.
Realising that email wasn’t built for effective team communication, Ryver has evolved as a challenger to Slack. It’s 100 per cent free and also caters for outside workers — such as contractors and freelancers — using the platform.
Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, a billion-dollar company that offers a suite of services and products for WordPress, has effectively sworn off email. He uses blog theme P2 and Slack to communicate and collaborate with his team. With traceable comments and alerts, Mullenweg believes P2 is a great way to effectively keep in touch with co-workers and track conversations.
As a task collaboration tool, Trello is one of the easiest to use (and one of the most visually appealing), with the ability to delegate projects, manage timelines and create various lists. It resembles notes pinned to a corkboard, so it’s simple to follow and gives a clear overview of your day.
The next gen of email
So, is it likely these new tools impact the future of email?
“Email is so multi-functional; for example, people use it as to-do lists, for personal information management, that it will probably still be around for a while,” says Mark.
Here are Gloria Mark’s 3 top tips to get on top of your email avalanche every day:
- Check email only at certain points during the day. For example, in the morning, after lunch, and at the end of the workday.
- Batch email so that that it’s sent out only three times a day.
- Use pull channels, where information is listed on websites or Wikis rather than sending company-wide email blasts.
So until email is completely wiped out, make sure you…
A version of this article was originally written for American Express Corporate Payments.