Many businesses are moving away from an internal communication system based on email. And with good reason — 33% of your time at work is consumed by email, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Literally billions of business emails are sent each day.
And what for? Email is notorious for leading to miscommunication. It’s difficult to convey emotion through written text, which easily leads to hurt feelings. It’s also not really instant communication, having to open each email means there’s not much of a flow and it’s easy to forget to respond to an email for weeks.
But should your business ditch email? Some companies have decided to do just that and adopt an internal instant messaging service, like Slack, HipChat, or Symphony. Before you make a decision, here are some important points to consider:
1. Email hurts productivity
One of the biggest problems with email is how dominated it’s become by robots and other communication that wastes people’s time. One Penn State University physician completed a study that found the institution was losing more than $1 million a year to email, according to Forbes. And it was this issue that drove the creation of Slack, founder Stewart Butterfield told The Verge.
“When I open my email it’s a giant casserole of email from family, friends, people we work with outside our organization . . . it’s garbled,” he said. “One of the advantages of something like Slack is that I tap on the app icon and it’s just the people at my company, and just the people I work with.”
The narrow scope of Slack allows it to be a place for people to do business and doesn’t require you to press the delete button over and over.
2. Millennials want to ditch email, but others are skeptical
The nature of instant messaging services fits in with what millennials know best. It’s an app on their phone. It’s hooked into social media. They’re comfortable with this kind of technology.
But other generations prefer using email. Brit Morin, founder and CEO Brit + Co., told Fortune that roughly half the team has ditched email. “The Gen X and older generations — they’re not adopting Slack and they’re missing out on a lot of community and conversation that might be useful in their jobs.”
That said, because Slack is an app on your phone, that means you’re always available. This makes it difficult to ever disconnect from work, which some employees might not be happy about.
3. More transparent
Slack breaks down into channels, so it’s easy to organize people into relevant groups but also have whole-team communication. This way everyone sees what everyone else is saying, leading to greater transparency.
Employees can still have one-on-one conversations in private chat rooms or through direct messaging.
4. Reduces email, but often doesn’t replace it
Obviously, an internal system won’t completely replace email as you’ll need it for external communication. Even Coachseek, a big fan of Slack, said it hasn’t completely ditched email. But it has reduced internal email from roughly 600 all-staff messages a week to only 3 or 4.
There are clear benefits to adopting a system that includes an internal instant messaging service. Each business will have to weigh costs and make their own decision.