Email has been around for decades and is still the main communication channel for businesses today. But emails have become a drag on productivity as we all spend time organizing, prioritizing, reading, responding, cc-ing, forwarding, attaching and so on.
A report from The Radicati Group estimates the average number of business emails sent and received per day to be around 125 in 2015. Those daily emails consume on average, according to a 2012 study by McKinsey Global Institute, 28% of total work time.
The study also found that email is the second most time-consuming activity for workers, and that introducing social networking communication would reduce time spent on email by 25-30%, thereby freeing up some 7-8% of total workweek time that could be allocated to other tasks.
Until better communication channels are available and widely used, we will have to keep using email. Even though recent efforts have been made to make mail inboxes less overcrowded (Google inbox, unroll.me) and to tackle spam, email still remains a drag on productivity.
Email isn’t appropriate for group conversations and transparency of communication. We could even go one step further and say that it isn’t meant for effective internal communication at all, and that it should therefore be used for external communication purposes only.
Social networks and mobile platforms have redefined how we communicate outside the office with chat-like messaging, status updates and content sharing, all of which are available anywhere, anytime. Today social collaboration software is redefining how we communicate at work, using similar mechanisms to make communication more effective and improve our overall productivity.
Whether these tools are task-specific or are for general communication and project management, social collaboration software is a clear step forward in the way we work. Effective collaboration creates a synergy, and greatly improves the quality of the work produced.
The goal and power of collaboration is to help people share information as naturally as possible, in order to exchange their knowledge and expertise on a given topic. But it also can be a great way to empower people by enabling them to work when, where and how they want to. It can help to foster creativity and generate new ideas, as well as making problem-solving faster and easier.
Another benefit of social collaboration software is that it flattens your organizational hierarchy, such that any one person is able to collaborate with anyone else. Better interaction simplifies the workflow and saves time.
All of these benefits will allow organizations to achieve more and get closer to their goals than they would by continuing to rely on emails for internal collaboration.
The next challenge now for social collaboration tools is to be able to provide a solution for external communication and interaction that would be easily accepted and used by other parties.