Enough with All the Email

Choose your communication tools more wisely

By Liz Bentley

Communication is the constant hot topic in the workplace. It used to all be driven around verbal dialogue but now that we live so heavily in a virtual world, our company is constantly addressing issues in the workplace around digital communication.

While there are many topics that arise from communicating virtually, a common one is how to manage the ever so cumbersome email inbox. Millennials have an interesting take on it. Last summer I was working with a financial company in San Francisco with some hot shots who had recently graduated from the likes of Stanford, Harvard and Dartmouth. They were commenting to me on the excessive and unnecessary use of email at their company. They noted that their superiors used email incorrectly. They use it to “chat.” These Millennials felt that email should only be used in a similar way to the old-fashioned memo – a way to document events, review projects, oversee timelines, address people more formally, etc. That is how they were taught to use it.

And by god, I think they are right! To them, “chat” (e.g. shortened conversations and basic questions) should exist only in chat spaces – text, instant messaging and social media sites. Chat is just a way to have a conversation with someone without talking live and it is inappropriate to use in email format. The trend we are seeing is that many companies are onto this. Some have created their own internal social media sites for employees to chat and have group chat (where teams can collaborate); others have adapted to the hottest new chat trend, Slack.

Slack is an instant messaging collaboration system on steroids. It allows you to separate messages, discussions and notifications by topic and department. The advent of Slack and other forms of chat have greatly reduced the email inbox issue and made communicating far easier.

Our TrendSpotter Alert is this: Get out of the habit of emailing exchanges that are better suited for other digital mediums. For those of you who are holding out for in-person meetings and still have a phone on your desk, don’t worry…there are plenty of humans who still like to talk with their mouths. And in some cases, verbal communication is the most appropriate choice. Just know it’s not the only choice, so choose your communication tool wisely and don’t clog up people’s inboxes with “chat.”* * *

Latest Trends on Communication Tools
The 4 Best Tools for Internal Business Communication, Entrepreneur Magazine, February 2017

The Best Online Collaboration Software of 2017, PC Magazine, January 2017