Moving Beyond Email for Collaboration

by Kelly Anthony

Employees and the C-suite often struggle to cope with an abundance of tools meant to facilitate better collaboration. Yet even with so many tools, nothing seems to be in the right place and the tools (e.g., email, online chat, file sharing) don’t always work well together. As a result, many employees give up and default to the tool they are most familiar with: Email.

Email will never go away, but we need to look at how we can give people better choices for working together. Until they have access to better tools, employees won’t switch from email because people cling to the familiar.

Additionally, the chaos created by too many collaboration tools imposes a tax on productivity. But bringing order to this chaos is possible by looking to the cloud. A cloud-based work management solution provides a single workspace that streamlines and centralizes collaboration with tools that are intuitive and flexible for workers, both internal and external.

Is your organization ready to collaborate in a new way? 

The most visible sign that your organization needs a new solution for collaboration might be worker frustration and a sense of time wasted when working with others. But there are solid business use cases as well:

  • Teams that work together on continually changing data, documents, and plans
  • Projects that need ongoing planning and management, but without the restrictions of formal methodologies
  • Work activity that needs a central, consistent place for sharing up-to-date information and communications, including archival purposes
  • The need to collaborate externally, but with greater security than is possible with email

What may be the clearest sign of all? When some employees and teams already have their own subscriptions to cloud collaboration tools, without authorization or technical support from IT.

Why Not Email?

Some workers may want to stay with email, arguing that everyone has it and knows how to use it already. But email comes with significant challenges, including the huge volumes of messages that make it hard to sort, search, or find relevant communications over time. In addition, email is not a good tool for managing shared work on documents, conversation threading, or exchanging information securely.

Moving to a cloud-based tool can improve security for collaboration, especially with external workers, customers, and 3rd-party partners. The tool should let IT restrict content access via user whitelists and provide granular controls over what individual workers can view and change.

For some workers, email may remain their preferred tool. But more likely, it will become a fallback option as employees discover the ease, security, and productivity benefits of a full collaboration solution.

Getting Users to Move Beyond Email

Tools that provide transparent collaboration and shared context will encourage people to move away from email. However, solutions that only offer cloud drives are based on a folder structure, so it’s hard for workers to create context around that content to make it meaningful and easy to find.

A full collaboration tool offers a better way to organize and share the spectrum of information types, including visuals and rich data sets. A cloud collaboration tool makes it easier to see context because it pulls together content from multiple drives, teams, and sources into one place, for a centralized view.

Replacing Chaos with Clarity

Understand that even when your organization chooses a collaboration tool, you may need to live with continued chaos for a while as workers explore the new solution. The reward for this patience: Once employees make the switch to cloud collaboration, your organization will no longer incur the high productivity tax on email sharing--and instead enjoy productivity gains.