Tuesday March 15, 2016
Given the number of articles out there detailing ways to make email more productive, more personable, and more collaborative, misused internal email can clearly cause a lot of harm in a business. But is it a necessary evil?
Many organizations default to using email as their primary communication tool. After all, it’s cheap, relatively reliable, and everyone knows how to use it. But in a small business, where every inefficiency translates to lost profits, it might be time to consider whether there’s a better option out there.
Why Has Email Taken Such a Hold in Small Business?
Email fills a very important niche in the internal communications strategy of a small business, but it’s actually not particularly well-suited to that niche.
Email is a dramatic improvement over purely verbal communication and communication via pen & paper or sticky notes. It provides a few key advantages:
- Written digital record
- Folders to organize emails
- Ability to include multiple recipients on a thread
And of course certain email platforms provide other features, like the ability to mark priorities. But ultimately, there are other tools that can accomplish those same benefits without the downsides that go along with using too much email internally.
The Problems with Internal Email
Using email for internal communication has a couple of major pitfalls associated with it. If you and your team are sending multiple emails to each other throughout the day to stay up-to-date on assignments, status of projects, and clients, you could be losing a substantial amount of time. Email has its place, but it’s not designed to handle long threads with multiple people, long-term project management, and so on.
Using email for internal communication has a couple of major pitfalls [Tweet this]
Checking, reading, and responding can eat up hours over the course of a week. Particularly if your staff isn’t specifically trained in tactics to reduce time spent doing email, you could be losing way more time than you realize.
Email also tends to trigger a very squirrelly workflow, where employees work on tasks in the order they come in rather than prioritizing based on cash flow, customer satisfaction, or other criteria of importance to your business. It definitely doesn’t ensure maximum productivity from your employees!
Using email as an internal communication tool also tends to cause significant disorganization, particularly if internal emails mix with client emails, incoming email marketing, and invitations to networking events. It’s difficult to quickly sift through an inbox of tens if not hundreds of emails, looking for what’s actionable and time-sensitive now.
And that’s often what small business employees need to do: think on their feet and find what needs to be done. Email not only obscures priorities, but also allows plenty of opportunities for attachments to get lost, for multiple recipients to get dropped, or for an important email to sit buried in someone’s overstuffed inbox.
Frustration for Managers
All that disorganization ultimately makes it difficult for managers to have the insight and intervention they need to keep employees and the business on track. Especially if you’re both business owner and manager, you need a solution that empowers you to manage your employees more easily.
Email often leads to a problem of slow turnaround, especially when a manager’s inbox gets too stuffed full of updates, questions, and requests to be able to respond in a timely manner. This can block up everyone in the office’s workflow, as well as create excessively dependent employees.
How many times have you had an employee say, “You never told me to do that,” or, “I didn’t know that was a priority”? Email makes it difficult for a manager to track down a miscommunication to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
All of those factors combine to put you at risk for actually losing more productivity and collaboration than you gain from email. While sending emails is preferable to having employees getting up from their desks to talk to each other in terms of creating a productive, collaborative environment, there are much more effective solutions out there!
Collaboration is very powerful when used correctly, but I’ve found that many teams don’t do it correctly. You can read more of my thoughts on collaboration by clicking here.
But What Could Possibly Replace Email?
Obviously nothing can totally replace email, but my team of 10 at AllProWebTools never has to use email to communicate internally. We don’t have to stand up and take a trip over to someone’s desk to talk with them either!
We have designed AllProWebTools to create a totally virtual collaborative workspace, without the trip-ups of email. We’ve noticed some big advantages as a result, but first let me explain how AllProWebTools can replace internal email.
A totally virtual collaborative workspace, w/o the trip-ups of email [Tweet this]
What is AllProWebTools?
AllProWebTools is an all-in-one management toolkit for small business, with tools to help you manage employees, client relationships, your sales pipeline, and your online presence. All of those different tools report to one central communication hub: the Workflow Timeline.
The Workflow Timeline is a live feed that helps everyone in a small business stay in the loop, without the need to spend time emailing or worse, time in meetings. It works a lot like a social media timeline, posting reports in reverse chronological order along with a timestamp and the name and picture of the employee involved.
- Employee timecard notes
- Updates on project and task status
- Client notes
- New leads and new orders
These updates are great for everyone on the team to stay up-to-date, but it’s especially useful for managers and/or business owners to maintain a high level insight on what everyone’s working on, with the ability to dive in for more detail at any time. You can do all this without actually interrupting anyone to ask what they’ve been working on!
What Tools Does AllProWebTools Offer to Replace Internal Email?
As I said, we’ve completely eliminated the need for the internal email within my team. Instead, we use several features of AllProWebTools to fill that niche.
- Tasking: Send tasks with deadlines, priority levels, and attachments. Each employee’s tasks will sort themselves by priority, so they always know what to work on next. Tasks can be passed around the office so employees can collaborate independently, plus when a task is completed, it goes back to the manager for approval.
- Live Chat: Unlike other chat systems, AllProWebTools Chat is built right into the console. That means chats are searchable by the console and entered into reports generated by the console. Two employees chatting all the time? A manager can take a look to make sure those chats are on-task.
- Workflow Timeline: The live feed format of this tool gives your employees the ability to check in on each other without the need for an interruption. Click here to learn more about how the Workflow Timeline improves internal communication.
By utilizing these tools, even our remote employees are able to stay fully in the loop without spending time emailing or on the phone. My team has reaped countless rewards from switching over to a virtual workplace and our small business users see a big improvement when they switch, too. Internal email isn’t a necessary evil — there are other solutions that can fill that niche in a more cost-effective, time-efficient, and collaborative way!
If you’re looking for a solution that can help you reclaim hours each week, save money, and improve internal communication, consider signing up for a free webinar!