Sick of emailing it in? Check out Slack and Teams.

Author:Williams, Kelly L.

Q. My staff and I are getting buried under an avalanche of emails. It's out of control. Surely, there has to be a better way to communicate, at least inside the business. Any ideas?

A. Email is undeniably the primary form of business communication today, which is both good and bad. On the positive side, it's convenient, easy to use (usually), and ... well, that about covers it.

On the negative side, the siloed nature of individual email accounts results in locust-like infestations of individual emails overwhelming inboxes, eating up user time, and creating innumerable opportunities for confusion and delay. And don't even get me started on people hitting Reply All when there is no need to.

Fortunately, a treatment for our email affliction is emerging in the form of collaboration applications, most notably Slack and Microsoft Teams. Admittedly, these are not 100% replacements for email, but they do provide much better platforms for team collaboration and organizational knowledge capture.

Some organizations have successfully moved all internal communication out of email and into Slack or Teams. Other organizations have started the process, and the speed of adoption is likely to increase, especially for Teams (since so many businesses run on Microsoft Windows and rely on applications such as the Office 365 suite).

At first glance, Slack and Teams appear to be a new version of popular instant messaging apps such as Microsoft Skype for Business. Slack and Teams can replace instant messaging applications, but they also offer features and functionality that resolve many of the challenges associated with email.

To help you understand how Slack and Teams are different from (and are often better than) email, let's see how these applications address common problems with email.

Change with channels

Problem: Senders, subject lines, and folders are all used to help organize topics in email, but they don't catch everything. There is always a missing email, usually the one you most need to find. Plus, you don't always know if everyone is looking at the same email or file.

Solution: Slack and Teams allow you to create channels, which organize conversations and collaborations around specific topics. You can create channels of any topic you choose and invite people, inside and outside your organization, to participate in those channels. Channel administrators can manage member permissions, including limiting members to read-only access or disabling access to a...

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