The very first email was sent back in 1971 (from Ray Tomlinson to himself, but whatever).
Forty-some years later, electronic mail functions in essentially the very same manner as it did then. While this form of communication is solid as ever, we’re starting to see a downturn in use as organizations opt for more modern, efficient alternatives.
Take Atos, an IT services company with a presence in 42 different countries. Atos’s CEO, Thierry Breton, had instated a ban on internal email exchange after realizing that staff members were spending 15 to 20 hours a week checking and answering internal emails.
Said Breton, “When we don’t have internal email anymore we will have fantastic new tools—a cloud computing environment, social networks, instant messaging, micro blogging, document sharing, knowledge community—these offer a much better approach for an information technology company.”
This story received a boatload of attention, and in general the consensus was that this sort of policy was radical and just plain weird.
While this is certainly not the norm these days, it is more than likely the first of many organizations to move away from email for internal communication.
Here are my three favorite alternatives that might save your company from the “data deluge” that is internal email communication:
1) Corporate IM
Not, not that (but close).
With a corporate instant messaging system communications are in real time, you have control over who you’re speaking with (no sneaky cc or bcc’ing), and the format is in line with what folks are already doing on their mobile devices—texting.
Not only that, but this software typically has additional features like:
2) Video Conferencing
With the proliferation of teleworking these days, video conferencing gives your staff the benefit of actually seeing one another—which is very helpful considering how much of our communication is non-verbal.
In many cases, too, you’ll also have the ability to share your screen with others, and to work on a document or project collaboratively.
We’ve all heard the arguments about why to not use the telephone. You’re interrupting. It’s rude. Let me answer you when I damn well please.
My question is, what exactly am I interrupting when I give you a call? You checking your email?
With one phone call, you can typically cover the same amount of material contained in 5 or 6 emails—it’s a huge time-saver.
When you think about it, we spend more time digging through our email than we do performing any other business activity. So, why don’t we have policies in place to control it?
I encourage you to try out some of these alternatives, just to see if you find yourself spending less time going back and forth with your coworkers.
Perhaps we’re on the cusp of a revolution.