alternatives to email

In spite of all of our advanced communication and collaboration technology, email remains the old stand-by for office communication. In fact, I’d wager you’ll get at least one email while reading this article.

Email definitely still has its uses, but when your team truly needs to collaborate, even in a near-time or asynchronous fashion, email just doesn’t stand the test of time. Endless replies with identical subject lines, attachments upon attachments and conversation threads that fork and diverge into oblivion all demonstrate how truly collaborating over email can be a complicated mess.

Thankfully, there are several collaborative alternatives to email that combat these kinds of issues. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Ditching Attachments

Emailing files is one of the most common practices at work, but the problems it can create are numerous. There’s no real version control. You could spend hours updating a document to send a new version, only to have someone come over the top of you, having edited a version from two emails ago. It’s a nightmare.

Your most important files, especially ones that need collaboration to be perfected, shouldn’t be left to the primitive void of email. For example, a team workspace tool like those provided by Central Desktop ensures that everyone has the most up-to-date version of the file, proposal or slide deck so there’s no accidental overwriting or lost edits. It’ll even let you “check out” a file like a library book so that everyone else knows it’s being worked on.

Here’s another trick: in iMeet, you can upload files to someone’s room even if they’re not there. Think of it like the modern version of laying a hard copy on someone’s desk. The next time they’re in iMeet, your file will be waiting for them in their library. This is especially handy if you’re working on a presentation that someone else is going to give!

Keeping Conversations on Track

The inherent problem with “Reply All” (other than accidental mishaps, of course) is that conversations are constantly diverging. Whether it’s sidebars between two people on the thread, a complete lack of continuity due to someone chiming in late or simply a joke that derails the entire conversations, it can be tough to really find the information you need in an email chain when you need it.

Team workspaces solve this problem again by creating discussion threads around individual facets of the problem, project or idea at hand. Keep the memes and funny YouTube videos separate from the boss’s edit requests, and always know where the conversation stands.