Updated: Sep 6, 2020
I am reviving an earlier post written by Atle Skjekkeland in 2015 about email disruption into workplace. I see this even more pertinent now as organisations are developing strategies for managing disruption of emails, its direct impact on employee productivity and knowledge management. In this post, I am specifically targeting the exponential growth of email based collaboration, and a case for Microsoft Teams as a better platform for collaboration and knowledge management.
Like it or not, but email is still the glue that ties an organization's workforce communication together. We use it to communicate with our bosses, colleagues, partners, and customers. We use it for storing important messages, decisions, formal advice, and a lot of important collaboration happens in email.
We are subject to 10 times more emails per day compared to 5 years ago. Whatever the number is, it’s time to rethink the appropriate role of email in our work related collaboration.
Below are 5 reasons for replacing email collaboration scenarios with Microsoft Teams:
1. Email locks down information and knowledge. Email is a an excellent communication and notification tool, but it also leads to information chaos when multiple people use email for discussing a topic or for collaborating on a team / work activity. Email design lends itself to knowledge silos, - important information and knowledge gets locked down or lost in personal user mailboxes.
Microsoft Teams addresses this by use of chat based conversations. Messages received in private chats or Team channels are presented in a single view, searchable by participants using Teams search, which provides results from both messages and documents shared with a discussion, and automatically stored in Teams connected SharePoint site
2. Email distracts knowledge workers. New incoming emails have a tendency to distract us. We end up in a responsive mode instead of spending our time being strategic and creative. We used to have a “You got mail” audio alert in the old days, - it’s now best to turn off all email notifications to be productive.
Modern tools such as Microsoft Teams have specific features to notify you only when someone specifically @mention your name in a long running discussion
Organizations at the forefront of employee productivity are increasingly using technology to implement email free days.
German company Daimler has implemented a new program that allows employees to set their email software to automatically delete incoming emails while they are on vacation. Source: BBC
3. Email lacks information filters. Most of us have only spam-filters for our emails, - we don’t know if the rest of the emails are important or not until we look at them. Hash tags have become my information filters for Twitter, @mention in Microsoft Teams and Yammer.
Since transitioning to Microsoft Teams, I only look at messages where I am mentioned, and my messaging interaction with my project team has reduced by a staggering 60%
4. Email makes Compliance complex. Teams working in regulated industry record important emails as evidence of key advice or decisions. With multiple email copies in recipients inbox, this is a real challenge in establishing a working practice for compliance activities. We also have habit of filing an entire thread with attachments when the only record is the attached file.
Microsoft Teams addresses this by design, files shared in a conversation live in Teams files (SharePoint), and can be labelled in place using Retention Labels part of Microsoft Advanced Data Governance. Read more about Retention labels in this blog post
An area of improvement for Microsoft Teams is retention labels are not yet available for messages posted in Teams chats and channels. This is presently holding off a number of use cases to be replaced in totality with Microsoft Teams. E.g. Legal matter or advice related processes.
5. Emails carry a noticeable carbon footprint. As bizarre it may seem, but recent studies by academics has made a compelling case for me to add this as a consideration for carbon literates. I found this shocking (for me), that for all those long emails and emails with attachments that I have been sending on a daily basis comes with a noticeable carbon footprint.
I don't have the evidence whether Microsoft Teams makes it any better, but the fact that I am now sending less attachments , and shorter emails (due to the modern #phenomenon), its making a small difference somewhere
It takes just three average office workers’ yearly received emails to surpass that of another human’s carbon footprint for all their activity for a whole year. Based on calculations by Mike Berners-Lee: "How Bad are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything"
Emails have an essential role to play in every organisation, my intention in this post is to bring back the focus on the original use case for emails, and leverage other more relevant tools within your Microsoft 365 ecosystem to meet collaboration and compliance requirements. We need email for external and internal communication, but let's get rid of email as a collaboration tool.
The keynote here is that I am not making a case for abandoning emails altogether, but there are great many Use Cases within each organisation which would significantly benefit by a scenario based adoption of Microsoft Teams.