Stop cutting email so much Slack

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One of the worst aspects of working in a professional environment is email. Between Reply-All assassins, single sentence sinners, and coworkers who write 6-page love letters over the use of em dashes versus en dashes, most professional inboxes are full of worthless correspondence. It’s no secret that email is huge productivity killer, the question is what tool to replace it with. Thankfully the rise of the application ecosystem has provided a plethora of options meant for both professional and personal use, with the hottest being Slack.

Business communication is tricky. Some projects and teams communicate so often messages can pile up and easily be missed. Well where Outlook –the the king of professional memos– falls short, Slack and a few of its peers really take off. The short version of Slack’s genius is messaging grouped around common threads and collaborators. The long version involves project management, message nesting, document iteration and approval, and private communication. Beyond text and document relay, Slack users can video chat, share images, update spreadsheets, build to do lists, and 100s of other tools. Very few of these options can be enacted in the classic email environment.

There is one major hurdle to clear with Slack, it is not email. It is not a simply inbox where a user logs in and sees all their unopened messages. With an email, all you need to know if your password and your correspondents address. With Slack it is more of a feed like Twitter where users have to agree to correspond and work in groups together; and just like Twitter, there is a learning curve which will immediately scare off newcomers.

So while all the bells and whistles of Slack are alluring, there is a much user friendly messaging ecosystem that masquerades as email; GMail. Only one letter is different, but Google’s messaging service is not your average electronic mail. Just like Slack, GMail allows for nests messages, allows for document and image sharing, video conferencing, and most of the rest. As a bonus GMail is a simple login and compose messaging tool.

Of course the management mind will always fear 3rd party communication tools like Slack. But before you write off all outside services, consider that state employees may soon be using Google services to send professional correspondents. If the State of Iowa is considering allowing public employee communications be cycled through a 3rd party tool, so can your company.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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