Email is dead

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I had an interesting conversation with a colleague at the coffee machine today, who confided in me that their inbox was becoming unmanageable (the colleague, not the coffee machine). This is a trend I’ve noticed with more and more people deluged with email and struggling to cope with it. And yet, despite various attempts to to try take email to the next level (Google Wave, anyone?) there’s still no viable contenders for the next generation of communications tools. Email is, as ever, King.

But in this day and age, it’s just not sustainable. Unless you are extremely bored and/or efficient, methodologies like Inbox Zero just fly straight out of the window. I do try to at least read all of my emails, but I know a lot of people that are happy to let the unread emails stack up into the thousands, which I can only imagine is demoralising at best to be faced with that little nugget of information floating about on you screen.

I think over the years, I’ve tried most of the ‘newer’ communications and collaboration solutions: Slack, Basecamp etc. But unless your entire work ecosystem is also using the same system, it falls flat on it’s face, and you always revert back to emails. Even Trello can managed from your inbox (badly). Email is ubiquitous, and that’s the problem.

In fairness, some companies have tried to make it a half-decent experience, particularly Google, and from a marketing perspective, email is a very good way to get your message out there (as long as it’s in a nice safe, GDPR way – I’m no fan of the EU, but GDPR was at least an attempt to do the right thing, even if it was a huge pain in the derrière to comply with it).

It’s got to the point now where some people I know have just given up on their inbox completely. I’ve always been an advocate of getting up off your backside and walking over to someone and talking to them if you can, or picking up the phone if you can’t (and you’ve got over your phonophobia). Perhaps we should all try to start having email free days instead, once a week or even more, rather than once a year in August (which is a bit pointless). Think I might suggest that at work…

Email is dead… long live the conversation!

(And yes, the irony is not lost on me should you be a new visitor and been presented with a email subscription box! I refer to my comments above about marketing, then scuttle away hoping no-one notices…)