Ever since Tom Hanks used it to get Meg Ryan’s number back in the 90s Blockbuster / AOL advertisement ‘You’ve Got Mail’, email has been cemented into business and consumer communications alike. However, in a world where technology is forever being streamlined, would Hanks still use it today, or would he just swipe left? Online dating has come on leaps and bounds in the last 20 years, but why are we still relying on email to run our businesses?
Some 280 billion emails are sent globally every single day, yet only about a third of them ever opened and read. That means that 93 billion emails a day (or 3.3 trillion emails annually) are left completely unanswered. If you add to that that around a quarter of employees think email is a major productivity killer and that almost half pine for a wider adoption of communication tools, then you have enough email propaganda to trigger a business referendum on the subject. Morse code anybody?
Get ideas moving
Hyperbolic statements (and stats suffocation) aside, why does this matter and how is email curtailing your workforces’ creativity? Well the key point to take away here is that emails can easily be ignored. This is bad because it effectively grinds conversations and productivity to a complete halt. Can you imagine if Lennon & McCartney had tried to write I am the Walrus over email, or perhaps if macaroni had cheese’s messages automatically marked as spam? A literal recipe for the worst episode of Black Mirror ever.
Let’s get real, email is certainly more efficient than, say, sending a letter in the post. However, with flexible/remote working increasing exponentially and email being the number one form of communication in business, we may need a more innovative solution than just ‘post, but online’. We need to empower our employees to work in a way that not only fuels their creativity in the moment that it’s sparked, but also allows them to fan the flames into a fire that burns brightly. A banana left alone for 5 days will go rotten, this is much the same with ideas. Eat them whilst they’re ripe or they’ll make you sick.
Debate, don’t delay
But how do we strike whilst the iron is hot? Simple, allow employees to communicate in a collaborative environment that suits their own habits and specific job requirements. Instant messaging, screen sharing, and video conferencing are all forms of collaborative communication channels that encourages idea sharing and instant feedback. Perhaps most importantly, these communication channels leads to healthy debate, instead of frustrating delay.
In an ideal world, you’ll have a setup that unifies your communications together, allowing you to switch between channels, stay on topic and not lose a step in the process. By using ‘presence’ to see who is online, you could start a conversation on IM, before switching to a video conference and automatically sending the video out to key stakeholders, all in one joined up session. The point is not to ditch email altogether, but to combine it with other tools in a way that gets your message across in the most efficient way possible, ensuring it gets consumed and read no matter what.
Eat your frogs
Fundamentally, business owners need to think about if they are happy to wait for a response to their biggest challenges and opportunities. Synchronous communications shouldn’t just extend to your own employees but also to suppliers, partners and even clients. Why not get feedback on a network drawing in the instant that it’s drawn? Or get that sales signature immediately instead of waiting for the next face-to-face meeting?
Depending on who you believe, we can check our email anywhere between 3 and 75 times a day, yet apparently will ignore up to two thirds of them. Don’t put your business objectives on hold by waiting for email notifications that may never arrive. Unify your communications and get your creativity and productivity flowing right now.