Is email dead? This was the subject of a press release I received earlier this week from workplace design firm Crown Workplace Relocation. It suggested that employees’ growing interest in flexible and remote working was driving the growth of alternative forms of communication such as web chats, screen share and online tools.
It also argued that the growing number of automated emails in circulation was resulting in employees spending far too much time managing their inbox rather than focusing on the job in hand. Rather than being a tool to help employees with their work, it seems that email has now become a job in itself. Having just returned from a week’s holiday to find more than 1,000 emails sitting in my inbox, I can certainly attest to this.
Coincidentally, I’ve had several conversations in recent weeks about the growing importance of social media channels in marketing and communications strategies, including as a way for an employer to communicate with staff. In some respects this is nothing new, as some organisations now routinely use LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook for such purposes. However, platforms such as Snapchat, Medium and Instagram are now also being discussed in such contexts.
So, how viable are these as alternative forms of communication to email? Should they be considered as a way to impart short, snappy messages that simply need to be noticed rather than requiring a response? Should communication methods such as text messages, WhatsApp and instant message services be used for conversations rather than lengthy email chains? And how can organisations structure these into a strategy that works for all employee demographics?
While I certainly think that email is far from dead, it may well be time to re-consider the role this has to play in a communications strategy and how it can be put to work more effectively alongside other means of communication.