A workplace without email!
4 new behaviours to help get you there.
It’s a disconcerting feeling for any office worker nowadays to open their inbox and see it empty. This empty inbox is also known as a workplace without email.
To some this would be a dream come true, to others, it will be a cause of concern. Does it signify some hidden meaning of their diminishing value to the organisation? That they’re not across or copied into the conversations and projects in their business?
When I first joined Adopt & Embrace as the Melbourne based consultant, I remember Paul, our Founder telling me that I wouldn’t need an email to communicate with my colleagues.
“It’s rare you’ll get an email from any of us Helen. We only use it to communicate with clients,” he said.
At the time, I remember this statement struck me as odd. After all, I had worked in corporate organisations for over 24 years, and in the last ten or so years, ever since the introduction of enterprise social networks such as Yammer, email was still the primary way employees communicated with each other.
The idea of no email was a curious one for me because even though I had heard of the concept, I had never seen anyone – in particular, a business, work without email.
A workplace without email? Here are four new behaviours that will help when transitioning to this new way of working Click To Tweet
Opening an email was a waste of my time
In the first few weeks in my new role, Outlook was the first application I would open during the day. However, I soon realised it was a pointless activity. I would open it up only to find that I had no email.
Think about that for a minute.
However, the glorious feeling was short lived because I had something else instead that baffled me. Notifications – and plenty of them!.
That’s when I realised that although we may not have emails, ways of working transparently and openly in collaboration and networking platforms will bring up new challenges for some people who aren’t used to this way of work.
After years of working and losing ourselves within an email, new workplace technology meant that we need to now refine our habits or create new ones around smart filtering that will make us more productive.
4 behaviours for a world without email
Here are four new behaviours that have helped me become more productive and less overwhelmed with notifications across multiple enterprise platforms.
Set up your profile
The first thing to do in O365 is to make sure you have set up your profile.
Fill it out as much as you can and don’t forget to include a photo. Make sure you fill out all the fields because these will end up helping you in your work in the long run. Start to think of your profile as your “online representation”. Just as you take time to update your CV with up-to-date information about your career, think of your profile as your Company CV because it’s your face – and soon, your voice – that will be your online representation of your physical self.
Many of our interactions with people are all online nowadays so having a full profile that includes your biography, education and your work projects will mean that not only are you visible to the people you are connecting with but your skills, capabilities, experiences and projects – your expertise – is evident.
A filled out profile means that your organisation can tap into your knowledge when they need to as well as be alerted to potential opportunities to work on exciting new projects in your organisation that may never have crossed your path otherwise.
Change your status
Nowadays any social network provides a status box where we are prompted to share what we are working on or what we’d like to share.
A new behaviour I had to get used to was changing my availability status during the day depending on what I was doing.
For example, when I was doing work that required my attention, I would change the status to “Do Not Disturb”. When I momentarily left my desk for whatever reason, I set my status to “Away”.
These little status updates may seem minor, but they are simple and effective ways in which you can control your work during the day, reduce distractions and focus intensely on work.
It’s also a great way to be able to respect each other’s time because it sets up expectations around when and how to be approached.
Set up your notifications
The third behaviour I had to learn quickly was to go into Settings of any application I was using to set up the notification parameters.
Did I want my notifications to arrive daily, weekly, monthly, never?
Did I want notifications every time I was mentioned?
Did I want notifications every time someone followed a project or a document?
If you don’t do this, you’re going to become overwhelmed with the number of messages, alerts, emails and notifications that are set on the default settings of the program you’re using.
The default parameters are usually set on the most notifications you can receive, and it’s up to you to deliberately and methodically go through each selection and decide which one you turn on and off.
Not doing this simple task will mean that you will soon become overwhelmed with notifications that serve no purpose other than to overwhelm you and fill up your inbox with useless information.
Set up rules
If you haven’t set up rules in Outlook by now, then I recommend you do so because these will not only streamline your inbox but it will save you the headache of finding and filtering emails.
We are overwhelmed with information nowadays, so any way in which we can automate the process of selectively filtering it so that it comes to us in manageable ways will be a handy skill to learn.
A rule can be created in Outlook that it runs automatically on any incoming or outgoing messages.
You can choose what triggers the rule and what actions it takes. For example, I have set up rules for any notifications that come in from Yammer to go specifically to a Yammer folder. That way, they don’t become mixed with other emails that may come in from outside the company. Alternatively, I have set up a rule that any message that comes from my manager automatically is filtered into a specific folder for action. You can also create rules around specific words in the subject heading which triggers an action.
Creating rules in Outlook is a time saver because it filters only the most important messages that directly need my input to my inbox. That way, I can focus on value-added work than spending time continually organising and re-organising my folders.
Over to you
A new world of work awaits us with tools and systems that will challenge us initially. However, by adopting new behaviours that we could consistently apply across any platform we are working on, we will find that more time is available to us.
After all, do you want to spend your time sorting out notifications or doing more value-added work?
Read part 1 and part 2 on ten great reasons your company should be using yammer to be more productive.