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Email Isn't Dead, But You're Probably Not Using It Right

October 9, 2019

Team Management

The first thing most of us learned to do online was send an email. Nowadays, it takes up over a third of the working day, with over 2.7 billion emails being fired off each second. Now approaching its 50th birthday, email has proved to become surprisingly resilient. How long is this likely to continue? With rumours swirling that “email is dead”, we check the facts and uncover the truth.

Email survived the dawn of the millennium, and thrived as we swapped clunky PCs for slim, sleek laptops. The introduction of high speed broadband and smartphones made it quick and fast to access, regardless of location or time. The primary reason for lasting success of email? It’s open to everyone, which means that anyone with an email address can contact somebody else for free, whatever browser, computer or website you happen to prefer.

So why the sudden backlash? Just because a technology survives does not necessarily mean it works best. Email has one colossal disadvantage, as anyone struggling against a barrage of unread messages will relate. In 2019, there are few prospects more terrifying than the minefield of an overflowing inbox.

It’s no wonder most professionals find the incoming traffic stressful. Group emails are chaotic and disorganised- an impenetrable whirl of cc’s and reply chains. The format and tone of emails can also come across as severely outdated- who finishes a conversation with the phrase “best regards”? It's easy to see how email etiquette has become a minefield of formality and ritual.

So how do we take the positive aspects of email, and translate them to the 21st century? Open systems are excellent for keeping teams inclusive and encouraging collaboration, but it’s important that we streamline email to ensure efficiency is never compromised. Studies suggest that email is very much still alive and kicking- so here’s how to make the technology work better for you.

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Streamline Your Inbox

Believe it or not, sorting and colour-coding isn’t the answer. While it may be useful to delete emails as appropriate, or label ‘urgent’ or ‘non-urgent’, any further micromanagement is probably overkill. Why spend precious minutes deciding which particular subfolder you wish to place your messages, if only to lose track of their location? As it turns out, life doesn’t necessarily correspond to five or six vaguely titled boxes.

Instead, consider software that structures your communication for you. For example, Wundamail sends a question to the whole team, then compiles the responses into one single group email. Imagine cutting out all the noise! Once a day (and once only), team activity is collated, condensed and circulated for all to see, so that you can spend more time focusing on the important stuff.

Proactively Manage Communication

Do you ever feel like your team has a focused, ambitious vision in a meeting, only for all the enthusiasm to dissipate the moment you exit the room? You’re certainly not alone. Even if you have great momentum in the boardroom, it can be difficult to translate this energy into practice once everyone is back at their desks.

The trick is to be proactive in maintaining that momentum. This means regular check-ins, team updates, and little pointers to steer the group in the right direction. This can prove difficult to put into practice, given that traditional communication channels lacks structure. As team leader, for example, you need to set the agenda, keep tasks on schedule, and ensure your team are performing at the highest standard. In other words, you need to proactively manage group culture and strategy. But you also want to give members the space to innovate, push projects forward, work together and think for themselves. You want an innovative team, that is also focused and efficient.

Finally, with Wundamail, you can have it all. Having a clear, automated feedback loop will allow you to keep project progress on track, while allowing room for independent thinking. Wundamail empowers leaders, supports team members, and makes for a streamlined email inbox.

Drive Inclusivity Via Email

Arguably, the way most organisations deploy email tends to actively discourage inclusivity. Smaller group chats spring up, individuals are excluded from replies, and long email chains alienate newcomers. You have to choose between making critical decisions at scale (which wastes time), or nailing down a plan with a few key people at the water-cooler.

The problem is that when company strategy plays out behind the scenes, ideas and information get lost in the grapevine. Things inevitably come out of left field, and employees struggle to voice their opinion. Without direct communication, it near impossible to inspire, or motivate a group of people to get behind a cohesive vision. So, what’s the point of investing in diversity if only to negate the benefits with a poor inclusivity strategy? Employees in this kind of environment will understandability feel undervalued or under-utilised, and are therefore less likely to succeed overall.

Setting up automated email feedback within a team is the best way to embed inclusivity within the very fabric of the organisation. By giving the whole team an accurate snapshot of team thinking each day, everyone can contextualise and understand company decisions and objectives. Wundamail even works directly in team members regular inbox, which keeps the system open and accessible for all. There are no complex log-ins, apps or passwords required, which means that employees are kept informed and ready to react and adapt to internal, societal and global changes. Ultimately, every single individual becomes responsible for executing team strategy, and accomplishing powerful change.

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