thoughts / The rise of communication tools and banning email

Improving security, wellbeing, productivity and customer support to name a few.

Not only does email waste time and money it also stresses you out.

The rapid rise of the email as a major communication tool has led to a love-hate situation. We love being able to communicate with people thousands of miles away in an instant and are expected to send more than 300 billion emails a day by 2021, but we hate coming back to an inbox full of 1000s of unread emails when we take a week's break from work.

The average office worker sends out 40 emails a day and receives 121 in return, and over 80% of professionals see it as their favourite form of communication. However, with the percentage of email considered spam as high as 50%, and research studies are finding most people take over a minute to get back to work after reading an email, hours of work time can be lost to email purgatory.

These negative effects have led to a growing number of companies to ban email, from consultancy firms to car manufacturers and even the IT company Atos which has over 80,000 employees! However, how do you communicate when you ban email at work?


The benefits of banning email

Before moving on to the practical aspects of banning email, it's important to highlight some of the amazing benefits doing so can have. Indeed, studies have shown that banning and restricting the use of email can increase productivity levels dramatically as well as reducing stress, making this a win-win solution for employer and employee.

It is also true that 'banning' email does not have to be a blanket ban to reap the rewards. Other studies have shown that limiting the times at which people can check email to a certain number of times per day can be equally beneficial to stress and productivity levels. Multi-tasking makes humans less efficient, so training ourselves to focus on a single task is a great way for us to get the best out of ourselves.


New ways to communicate

Recognising the problems caused by email is one thing, but finding new ways to communicate can seem like more of a challenge. The solutions you need will vary by company size and type of business, but there will be things that work across the board too. Often solutions can be as simple as talking to each other more, be that in person in a small office, or on the phone if further away. Communicating in real time has the added benefit of speeding up solutions to problems.

One challenge many find too daunting to imagine is finding communication tools that improve task assignment and collaboration. However, fortunately, these days there are a host of new collaborative work technology solutions out there that have filled this gap in the market that these pioneering companies created by banning internal email communication. Built around instant messaging, document sharing and project networks, technology has found innovative solutions.


What communication tools can replace email?

Slack was built to bring all communication and files under one umbrella in a single hub and is now used by over 6 million users. This serves to solve three issues centred on team communication, staying up-to-date with projects, and file sharing and integration. Slack is a great tool to organise and has been used in both corporate settings and community organising demonstrating its ease of use and scalability. Its flexibility also means it works on most devices including both Android and iPhones.

Slack has free plans, but for larger organisations, it will set you back $6.67 per month. However, the good thing is Slack tracks active users for you, so your bill is automatically adjusted to an amount suitable for the utility you are getting from it.


Facebook Workplace

Facebook Workplace also provides you with everything you need to collaborate as a team, from video and voice calling to team chat. One of the great things about this tool is that most people know how to use Facebook these days and the business version looks and feels similar to the social networking site, so there is no steep learning curve for staff. It also uses cutting edge AI to ensure people only get the information they need.

Like Slack, Facebook Workplace is free if you only need the basic functionality and is also free for registered charities and educational institutions. There is a 90-day free trial for those needing to pay, and after this up, it will cost businesses just $3 per user per month. There pricing is also dynamic, so your monthly bill will adjust based on who is active in the workplace.


Microsoft Teams

One issue that concerns some organisations with new products like Slack and Facebook Workplace is that relatively new companies build them. That, accompanied with their explosive growth in users can sometimes lead to issues in platform management. For people sharing this concern, Microsoft has now built a Slack competitor offering much of the same and an improved calendaring system. It also combines the flexibility of Fleep with non-members with the team focused benefits offered by Slack.

The success of Slack, Facebook Workplace and other similar platforms forced Microsoft to offer a free plan to and this comes with fewer limits on connectivity than both Facebook Workplace and Slack. However, when you start scaling up your usage, Microsoft Teams will hit you in the pocket a bit more with costs of $12.50 per user per month.


It's about behaviour not tools

Ending our attachment to email is not something that comes easy, with the number of worldwide email users set to rise to over 4 billion in by 2021. However, as more and more research shows, banning emails can do wonders for both a company's bottom line and the health and stress levels of individuals.

Banning emails also doesn't mean we need to stop communicating or even communicate less; we need to communicate better. Whether that's using the telephone, walking across the office or using new technological solutions, communication doesn't end when the email gets banned.

At RARELY we have been internal email free since October 2015.