Say goodbye to emails & hello to digital collaboration tools

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Back in July of 2017, I wrote a post called "Good emails, bad emails." The post was about social intranets (I also wrote a book on the subject), and it outlined the problems that email brings to organizations.  It opened with:

"Email continues to be the main medium for digital communication in many companies, and at the same time is one of the biggest time wasters and productivity killers."

Two years later and unfortunately, it is still relevant today.  Companies and their teams are not immune to the curse of internal mail, even where digital collaboration tools are already well established.

The problem: emails are forwarded as emails

Maybe you've already reached the point where you communicate and collaborate via Confluence, Linchpin intranet, Jira, as well as with Hangouts Chat and other Google G Suite tools.  However, you know all too well, there's always that one person that hits "reply to all."  Maybe someone received a customer email, has attached their comments/questions, and has now forwarded it to 3 or 4 people?

At first glance, it doesn't seem that dramatic, right?  Over time, however, it can snowball into a chaotic series of replies, forwards, and quoted emails.

Digital collaboration toolsEmailing back-and-forth stands in the way of productivity and efficiency

Emails may contain tasks or attachments that would need to be documented elsewhere or downloaded.  That's the problem - you can't actually work with the email itself.  This drastically reduces the efficiency of the tasks involved.  Especially if things need feedback, issues that require team collaboration, or that require the input from third parties.

Imagine this: I receive an email, but I (for my own convenience) forward it to a few people - or worse - to a whole mailing list.  The chaos spiral that ensues is basically my fault.

In this chaos, the following scenarios are fairly likely:

  • Tasks and attachments get lost.
  • Interesting information gets buried amongst walls of other text.
  • People who may have had exciting contributions, refrain from sharing

At the end of the day, exciting or inspiring ideas and impulses aren't processed productively.  And that's a real shame.

The Solution: Digital collaboration tools

Displaying, sharing, and working on content within Confluence, Jira, and group chat is smarter and more sustainable.  Hitting the fwd: function may be more convenient at first glance, but it doesn't create any added value.

With digital collaboration tools, we can communicate on a completely different level.  The source information is available directly - including the files sent.  I can now attach everything to a Confluence page and the Jira process within seconds.

Now, everything can take place in context.  We can create tasks, involve the right people with @mentions, and set working deadlines.  Everything is centrally documented and can be found at a later time via the archives.

Requiring only a few more minutes of my time, I've created a workflow that's efficient and has much more substance for my colleagues.  I'm setting an example for others to follow.  The positive effect on internal processes such as documentation and collaboration is truly eye-opening.

A more effective way to cooperate

Creating a Confluence page or Jira process or forwarding to a suitable room in Google Hangouts Chat may be a bit more work for you in the short term than quickly forwarding an email or clicking "Reply to All." Still, it's much healthier, more sustainable and also more effective in the long run.

All it takes is a little extra effort up front to set up the new page and mention the relevant people. Eventually, you'll find that this becomes a habit, it becomes second nature to you, and that you'll become faster at starting new pages, all while benefiting from collaborating using a far more effective communication medium.

The result will definitely outweigh the small amount of effort that you make, and it will help you to collaborate more smoothly and effectively with the help of Confluence, Jira, and group chats.

Further Information

Meetings as a last resort: Asynchronous communication with Atlassian Confluence and Jira
Good Emails, Bad Emails
Away With Email, Use an Intranet!
How We Got Past the Death of Internal Email

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