Emails have held their position as a centrepiece of workplace communications for years — they’re quick, simple and free to use. But recent data suggests that the email is slowly being replaced by real-time communication apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams. So, in a time of instant messaging, is the email still a relevant business tool? Here, Kristian Torode, Director and Co-Founder of unified communications specialist Crystaline shares his insight into the future of business communication tools.
Emails are a huge part of most people’s day, and from a business perspective, they do have a purpose. Email is excellent for documenting conversations and providing an easily accessible paper trail for meeting minutes, policy distribution and communication with clients or customers. It’s targeted too — only sending messages to specific, relevant personnel ensures that conversation remains on topic for productive comms. But despite its perks, is the email on the way out?
End of an era
Recent data suggests that legacy office communications technologies like email are losing their dominance — for the first time, a small majority of users are favouring real-time messaging over email. So, what’s the reasoning behind the start of the email’s demise?
Most employees opening their inbox each morning are faced with spam, newsletters and other irrelevant content. You’d imagine that after 50 years of emailing, there’d be a solution to these inconveniences, but this seems to have just become an accepted nuance of the technology. But it’s not just inconvenient — identifying urgent emails that need immediate attention among a sea of irrelevance is a challenge, and many go amiss, hampering business operations.
Emails are a productivity killer too. According to McKinsey Global Institute the average individual spends 28 per cent of their working day reading, writing and responding to emails. Constant notifications interrupt employees, hindering people’s ability to complete deep-focus work, meaning it takes longer, and is more challenging, to get things done.
Yet despite its flaws, email is still the king of business communication. But with new players entering the communication space, that might change. The technological advancement of the last two decades has created a culture of instantaneity — in personal and professional spheres, people are increasingly expecting to get results instantly.
The same goes for messaging. Waiting two to three business days for a reply to an email doesn’t cut it nowadays. People expect instant responses, which real-time messaging platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack can offer. With the en masse shift to remote working, these platforms have exploded in popularity, especially for internal communication.
Additionally, the entry of Gen Z into the workforce is shaking things up. As the first generation of digital natives — a generation bought up with technology and the internet — Gen Z has higher expectations from the technology they use and for most, email is too clunky. According to a survey conducted by SendGrid only 36 per cent of Gen Z feel email is essential for internal communication, favouring instant messaging.
Increase the options
Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on just one communication channel — but combining several must be done right. Most of the time, combining technologies typically results in disjointed setups with organisations using several separate vendors for different tools — video conferencing, instant messaging, email and hosted voice telephony.
The key is to give employees the choice by adopting a unified communications (UC) strategy. UC offers the dynamic integration of all business comms methods into one platform. At Crystaline we offer complete UC installation, integration and support through products like Vodafone One Net which joins up mobiles, landlines, desktops, laptops and tablets so they work together seamlessly. Employees are flexible on which device they use and which comms channel they opt for.
While the email still holds a place in business comms, in the increasingly digital working world, it shouldn’t be the only option. With several channels available, each with their own benefits, businesses should adopt a UC strategy to give personnel the freedom to communicate, collaborate and share information in the most efficient way for them — be it email, instant messaging or phone calls.