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January 24, 2013 / Mervyn Dinnen

No More E-mail Any More at #HREvent13

It’s hardly a secret that I’m no big fan of e-mail…I’ve covered it in a few blogs. I find it unsociable, a conversation killer and too rooted in process and procedure.

No surprise then that an #HREvent13 session on transforming from an e-mail culture to one of social collaboration would get my attention. It was run by blueKiwi who are part of Atos – maybe not the easiest company to champion in these times but they are large so I was interested in how this transformation came about.

Simply put, it arose during a brainstorm on how to engage and empower the future workforce…a business world without e-mail was a subject up for discussion.

Here are some nuggets I picked up during the session…you may have seen one or two on my twitter fed:

“E-mail is annoying. It’s not a collaboration tool, it’s a communication tool and a task management tool”

“A move from e-mail to social collaboration is not just about systems & technology but really about organisation, culture & attitude as well”

“Social collaboration increases agility, productivity, speed & effectiveness through better talent mobilisation, knowledge sharing & communication”

“Next generation communication tools are necessary to attract & retain new generation talent not just in Europe but worldwide”

“E-mail based management style is creating distance between teams and management which diminishes engagement”

“Introduction of social collaboration flattens hierarchy. Everyone has the same voice. Management behaviours need to change”

OK, so it’s one business in a sea of electronic mail but here are my thoughts…

  • E-mail is not a natural communication medium to the next generation (apparently only 11% of 13-19 year olds use it to communicate with each other)
  • The future flexible, contract, project based, locationally free workforce need a collaboration tool not a communication tool
  • A move away from e-mail is cultural and psychological, rejection mainly a fear both of the unknown and of loss of control
  • Management mind-set and behaviours are the keys. Current e-mail usage is too centred on task assignation/management and control

Moving from e-mail to social collaboration requires significant change management – the presentation dealt with how this was being done. HR plays a key role, and the creation of a network of internal ambassadors is important.

Ultimately it’s also about showing employees how it will make their job easier, tasks quicker, productivity higher and allow quick access to essential information.

The end of e-mail? It’s all in the mind…

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2 Comments

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  1. Sukh Pabial / Jan 24 2013 10:03 AM

    Thanks for this, Merv.

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate in response to this post. In principle, I can see why collaboration tools and social media will change the direction of how email is used.

    But email isn’t going anywhere. It still serves a very practical purpose of being an efficient secure way of communicating in the work environment. Used well, it can help a whole host of things to happen. Cascade of messages, sharing of information, invitations, kicking off emails, team management, etc.

    Collaboration tools will just become part of the norm as well as email. Collaboration tools provide a different way of communicating, which is much more intuitive and easy to use.

    Eventually though, even with the likes of Skype, requests will be made for work to be carried out, and then it stops being about collaboration and about management.

    The better companies will be the ones where they are able to find ways to make these things work for them.

  2. I find e-mail functional but also understand people’s resistance. For me, it’s a means to an end in a busy world, but not a replacement for hand to hand combat …

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