Today’s workplace is fast paced and often includes remote workers, projects that involve more than one team, and some complicated communication.
A missed Email could mean the difference between keeping a client and losing one. Industries are also rapidly changing, and keeping-up is a critical challenge.
It is important for any business with a large team of on-site employees, remote workers, contractors, or any combination of these to understand how to effectively utilize Email. Defining what role Email plays, leveraging collaboration tools, integrating Email with other software, and giving employees choices when it comes to communication are all essential steps in this process.
Establish Communication Policies:
One of the first keys is that everyone needs to be on the same page, and a good way to do this is to establish some basic Communication Policies and Protocols.
There should be policies in place for nearly every communication contingency, and Email should be only one piece of the solution. Think about the ways you have used Email in the past and how those ways have become inefficient over time. The larger the team, the more complex and cumbersome the communication process often becomes.
1. Limit the Number of Emails Sent:
Just like your personal inbox, if you get too much spam, you tend to ignore it or just wait until the end of the day (or longer) to clear your inbox. With work Emails, if you Email too much about things that are of limited importance, it will be like the boy who cried wolf — no one will pay attention to them in a timely manner.
2. Be Careful What You Email:
Simple chats and other communication that is urgent should be sent via work chat programs or collaboration software. Things the recipient may need to refer back to later should be Emailed so they can be easily saved and recovered.
3. Understand the Impact of Large File Size Attachments:
Some file sizes are too large to send via email or take a long time to download. Too many attachments create the same problem. Send these in shared file folders in apps like Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and other similar platforms.
4. Have Email Usage Rules:
Personal Emails and professional business Emails must be held to a consistent set of rules. For example, funny memes should be saved for social media or one-on-one communication. Emails are too easily accidentally sent to the wrong person or seen by clients or others who might find them offensive.
5. Utilize a Digital Signatures:
A Secure Digital Signature prevents Email tampering and ensures that who the Email is from is clearly identifiable.
These are just a few potential Email policies - develop more that fit your work environment and needs.
Leverage Collaboration Software:
If employees find these policies overly restrictive, collaboration software can facilitate more informal communication that necessitates fewer rules. There are other reasons that collaboration software is taking over the place email once held for many businesses:
● Like its name, it produces more collaborative results.
● It saves time spend sending and reading emails.
● Collaborative software increases productivity.
It is important that there are clear boundaries set for how communication should take place in any given situation. There should also be a default “if you don’t know, go to … ” policy. For instance, in the case of a payroll issue, Email is the first “go-to” until you are instructed to use another method of communication.
Clear policies and Collaboration Software are just one piece of the puzzle though…
Integrate Email With Other Communication Software
Yes, collaboration software has its place. But there are those employees who work more effectively through Email, and there are also those instances when Email is the best way to save something you will have to refer back to later on. Luckily, this can be solved by integrating Email with other communication software.
Most collaboration software such as Asana, Trello, and Basecamp have the option for email notifications, and you can even customize those options. The integration process is usually a part of the sign-up process, and even if it was not configured at that time, there are usually settings that allow for integration. For instance, you can set up integrations so that attachments to tasks are automatically Emailed to the recipients. There is also the ability to customize Email, desktop and mobile notifications.
Make sure that your company Email is configured so that is easily integrates with the other communication software you have in place. Your IT department can help, or you can research the how’s and why’s of email integration. If you are using the Google Business Suite, the integration is pretty simple.
Give Employees Choices
Each of your employees are different and unique individuals. Not only do they communicate with unique styles, they also prefer certain devices, apps, and software. You don’t have to use all of them within your company, as this would be very complex, costly and time-consuming. It is best to find a platform that works well for your environment and users, and try to stick with it.
However, whether you have a BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) policy or if you issue employees devices, giving them some degree of choice whenever possible will help improve communications. Make sure that your company Email can be accessed on all devices. Also, don’t forget to look into using special encryption or a VPN to help protect and secure your company’s communications. Ensure that those security features operate on all of your various devices and operating systems.
How you set-up your company Email will determine how your employees use their Emails. If you make things too difficult for your employees, they may find ways to “go around” your systems, which defeats the entire purpose. Also, make sure that whatever you implement will easily integrate with Mac Mail, Outlook, Gmail, and other popular email platforms.
Your employees will likely have a many different needs when it comes to accessing their messages on a variety of devices. The best idea with a big team is to have a widely accessible, flexible, but secure Email platform.
Avoiding the Dreaded “Reply All”
The key to organization and good communications is to have team norms and policies set-up about how to reply to Emails. We have all heard of or experienced the dreaded “Reply All,” in which an Email is sent to everyone in the chain that is only meant for one person or a small group.
This can be everything from a joke that gets spread much further than intended, or even worse, confidential communications sent to the wrong employee or department. While accidents do happen, one of the better ways to prevent this is to send Emails individually or to small groups, and avoid the use of Distribution Lists unless you are well trained in their use. Always keep communications limited to just what matters, and if confidential or sensitive items need to be discussed, call a meeting or set up a private discussion instead.
Using email effectively with a large team can be a daunting task. Just remember, email is only a part of the larger communication puzzle.
Establish policies, integrate where you can, leverage collaboration software, and give employees communication choices when possible. It will be less likely that things will be missed or misunderstood, and communications will be clear, efficient, and effective.