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10 reasons why emails sabotage team work and communication

6 min read

"The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face [in the future]. It is time to think differently."
Thierry Breton, CEO Atos

Welcome to the year 2019. The speed of communication is overwhelming and – let’s say it how it is – sometimes extremely unbearable. Like everyone else you are probably exchanging endless emails, trying to find an answer like finding the Holy Grail. When you get the answer, finally, it seems you don’t need it any longer.

The thing with emails is that "People want lighter-weight things like SMS and IM to message each other." Thats what Mark Zuckerberg said a couple of years ago. And he is right. Dedicated solutions offer the speed that emails will never reach.

There are quite a few reasons why it is only a matter of time until email is going for a well deserved retirement:

1. Emails are a pure distraction

Getting disturbed by an email is easy since you can’t really prioritize it. You can, of course, use some labels or plug-ins, but the truth is that if you get an email from a coworker, you automatically assume that it is super-duper-important while… they just sent a message about a gather together next Friday. To the entire company. In the middle of your working day and productivity. Ok, let’s see... were had we got to? No worries, statistically, you "only" need 30 minutes to refocus again after you got distracted.

2. Email is not for a pleasant collaboration

Can project management, actually, be… nicer? Sure it can. Conducting it via email is sometimes harsh, though. Dedicated software, on the other side, can encourage productivity, shareability and searchability.

Also, dedicated tools support quick processes. Quick questions, quick answers, quick access. Let’s say that your sales reps are about to attend a meeting with a very important client. However, they lack some important data. Getting it via email can take ages and you never know whether the email actually arrived or was read. By contrast, accessing the data through a live chat with colleagues within a project management software takes only seconds. In the group chat, for example, several people have insight. Everyone of them could react in a pinch while the conversation remains comprehensible at all times.

3. Email is just another one who bites the dust

Love it or hate it: Generation Z is no longer a group of pupils, but people who are ready to conquer the labour market. While Baby Boomers had a good run with emails, Generation Y started looking for some more collaborative and accessible tools, and Generation Z… simply do not use emails.

This generation of workers appreciates the potential of conversation and real-time information. They grew up with tech, they are natural early-adopters, and they set their bars really high when it comes to requirements. Their lifestyle needs to be applied to their workstyle. So stop expecting to get tangled and long emails from them. It may be hard to believe, but because of some obsolete tools you’ve been using in the workplace, some potential employees can be put off.

4. Emails foster dependencies

Waiting for other coworkers to push pieces of information can take ages. You are waiting for tasks to be completed by others, and then you need to get some confirmation about it via email. Without it, you are often not able to proceed with your part, so the process can be clogged. There can be many situations where, actually, the task has been completed, but your colleague did not let you know, so you sat by your desk for two hours doing nothing. If the communicatin takes place via email, it is often not clear who is responsible for the project at the moment and what is being worked on. The processes become opaque and the progress inhibited.

However, with dedicated solutions such as collaboration tools, you are able to map work processes better and provide information quickly and easily – for everyone involved in the project/task. Task status keep everyone updated and related information can be retrieved by any authorized person.

As mentioned before, emails can be prioritized with labels in order tu guarantee smooth cooperation, however, the medium lacks transparency.

5. Emails support no workflow

Since email is a simple push system, it also does not support collaboration within workflows. Instead of focusing on work and taks, the team spends time struggeling with the bad organization of their project. Information disappears literally within the various mailboxes of the team members, no one knows at which point the task currently is, whether it is being worked on at the moment or not and also the responsibilities of the team members may not be clearly stated.

Because emails do not visualize work processes for everyone and information flows back and forth in an opaque network, they make it virtually impossible for a team to follow a clear workflow. The combination of a task board, task assignments, deadlines and status, on the other hand, is the perfect solution to clearly present all work steps. Agile workflows, that support efficient project work, can be implemented without much effort.

6. Email wastes time

According to Forbes, we are spending 2,5 hours a day on our mail inboxes, checking them about 15 times. Just imagine what you could do instead. Why are we doing that, though? We are somehow taught to check it all the time in fear of missing out important emails. We go through discussions all over again, and if a particular email already had many replies, going through them all in order to find one bit of information can be tedious, time-consuming and extremely annoying. Not to mention the problems we have trying to relate the conversational context.

7. Email is not as accessible as everyone thinks it is

There are still many companies where accessing emails out of the office is impossible, and therefore, people are forced to work in the office, without possibilities for home office and remote working. Bearing in mind that the future of work is all about working from any workplace you create for yourself, this approach is nothing but obsolete.

Cloudbased project management tools are the far better option when it comes to meeting the demands of Work 4.0. This provides time and location independent access to all relevant information for the workforce. Nevertheless, it is important not to neglect the security aspect and to choose a solution that securely encrypts all data and protects it against unauthorized access. This leads us to the next reason:

8. Email is not safe

Breaking into someone’s email inbox, especially if they do not have any two-factor authentication, is dangerously simple nowadays. And above all, the consequences of such an attack are immense: they are not only highly damaging to the business itself, the victims are also threatened with considerable legal consequences. Internal company affairs such as information about the new product/project, personal data of customers, important business contacts – these data should certainly be kept under wraps, right?

The right alternative is a communication tool with client-side end-to-end encryption (in the very best case also with a German server location). Be sure to use DSGVO compliant software. All information about our security standards can be found here.

9. Email is more about spam

Let’s admit it: how many of the emails that arrive in your mailbox every day are actually relevant? If you just realize that a large part of the "news" consists of advertising, irrelevant inquiries and spam, do not worry. You are far from being alone and it doesn’t have to be like that.

Collaboration tools work very differently. You are only added to those communication channels that are really relevant to you, so you only get the information that concerns you. Annoying deletion and moving of messages will be a thing of the past.

10. Email is not cheap

You can say that some email providers deliver cheap solutions. Great. But as we mentioned in one of our recent blog posts, the price you really pay for using a free solution can be really high. More downtime, fewer features and a higher level of frustration, just to name a few. If you want to make more out of your inbox, you are very likely to pay quite a lot to unlock hidden options.

New Work is calling for a more dedicated solution

We all know that collaboration is the key to success. While email is not dead yet, and can still be using for short general information, you can’t really regard it as a collaborative tool that keeps your workflow on track. The focus from the personally assigned workplaces and individual tasks is transferred into encouraging collaboration and combining working space. Email can’t replace any project management software, but a project management tool has a huge chance to replace email. The chance is bigger than ever before.

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Dorothea Herold
About the Author:
Dorothea Herold is Projectmanager at Stackfield. She loves to create customer-focused conzepts and walk along the water.
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