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  1. Computer Skills
  2. Teamwork
Computers

Email Isn't Working, How to Use Computers for Efficient Team Communication

by
Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:

In this tutorial, I’ll show you why email is not working for you and give you a solution to collaborating with others in teams to work more efficiently and effectively.

Photo by Matthew Henry
Photo by: Matthew Henry (licensed for use)

The growth of the Internet, over the last 25 years, has opened up new ways of working, new industries and new opportunities in a way that few could’ve imagined back in the early-1990s.

Envato, for example, helps people to succeed. 

Browse over nine million digital assets on Envato Market, hire designers and developers through Envato Studio, download unlimited graphic assets with Envato Elements, launch simple websites on Envato Sites and learn new skills with tutorials and courses—across a number of topic areas—with Envato Tuts+.

The Challenges

Photo by Matthew Henry
Photo by: Matthew Henry (licensed for use)

As modern, often Internet-based or enabled businesses grow, so does the problem of communication. The increase in colleagues, collaborators, customers and suppliers results in increasing demands on one’s time.

There’s a number of challenges facing teams, including:

Email

Email is not always the best tool for effective communication
Email is not always the best tool for effective communication (licensed for use)

Email has been with us since each of us first used the Internet. For many, it was almost miraculous that a message could be sent and received, anywhere in the world, in a matter of seconds. 

It’s something that we take for granted these days.

Email inboxes overflow with marketing emails from PR firms, newsletter subscriptions, correspondence from friends, correspondence from colleagues, requirements from the boss, information from the organisation, customer queries and spam.

A horrible mess where the distraction is a constant drain on time.

There are many proponents of inbox zero but, let’s be clear, it’s probably better to address the cause rather than the symptom.

Disparate Messaging Systems

Photo by Alok Sharma
Photo by Alok Sharma (licensed for use)

Frustrated and disillusioned with email, many turn to instant messaging systems to keep on top of the stuff that really matters.

This means the adoption of iMessage, Telegram, WhatsApp or similar. As instant messaging contacts grow, however, so does the challenge of tracking what’s important. 

And then there’s the colleague who refuses to use the same messaging app as everyone else.

Geographically Distributed Teams

Geographically Distributed Teams
Geographically Distributed Teams (image licensed for use) 

The organisation for which I work, Envato, is proud to work with people not just at head office in Melbourne, Australia. Staff work from offices and home offices in different time zones around the world.

Within the tutorial subjects that I manage—Computer Skills, 3D & Computer Graphics and Music & Audio—I work with teams of people in the UK, Europe, United States, India, Australia and elsewhere.

This modern way of working often means that team collaborators are not always available at the same time.

The Solution

Photo by Nicole De Khors
Photo by: Nicole De Khors (licensed for use)

Rather than pursuing the never ending goal of inbox zero—that you’ll never achieve for long—it’s far more sensible to use a team collaboration tool.

Team Collaboration software separates team communication from email and even integrates it into other platforms, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, for the seamless sharing of information.

Setting Up a Team With Flock

Set Up a Team With Flock
Set Up a Team With Flock

For the purpose of this example, I’ve chosen to set up a team in Flock as it is a cost-effective way of testing whether the solution works for me.

Flock is not the only solution, but it is one that is easy to get started with and get up and running with colleagues.

1. Sign Up

Get Started
Get Started

Visit flock.com in order to sign up to Flock. It’s as easy as entering your email address in order to get started.


If the email address that you’re using run on Google Apps, Flock gives you the opportunity to connect it. 

This means that you’ll be authenticated via Gmail user credentials and saves you having to create yet another username and unique password combination for the service.

2. Create a Team

Create a Team
Create a Team

Next, create a team.

3. Enter Personal Details

Enter Personal Details
Enter Personal Details

When prompted, enter your own profile details.  Enter a telephone contact number, if you wish, especially if you and your colleagues revert to telephone on occasion. It’s probably a good failsafe, just in case there are internet connectivity issues in the future.

Adding a head and shoulders photograph to your own profile helps with team communication; it’s quicker to recognise and image of someone than it is to read their name. Your colleagues should do the same.

4. Invite Team Members

Invite Team Members
Invite Team Members

Any team is only as good as its members. Flock helps make it easy to invite colleagues to collaborate via the platform. Flock even emails you a couple of days later with progress on those that have signed up and those that have not.

5. Start a Communication Channel

Start a Communication Channel
Start a Communication Channel

It’s quite possible that the team is working on a number of different projects with subsets of people being involved in each. If this is the case, you can set up multiple channels and restrict them to just the participants that are required for that collaboration.

6. Define Channel Settings

Define Channel Settings
Define Channel Settings: Public or Private

Enter a meaningful description for the channel. An image helps people to quickly differentiate between channels. 

Toggle the setting for whether the channel is to be public (open to all members of the team) or private (open to only those members that accept an invitation.

Successful Collaboration

Successful collaboration requires all team members to use the tool; it’s not going to save you much time if some stick to email as you’ll spend time servicing two different tools.

Communicate via Channels

Communicate via Channels
Communicate via Channels

Flock enables colleagues to participate via specific channels, these may be useful for the whole team to keep up to date with particular projects.

Communicate via Direct Messaging

Communicate via Direct Messaging
Communicate via Direct Messaging

There are times when you’ll wish to discuss something in detail, or discuss something that is private, such as rates or invoicing. For this, you can communicate with any team member directly.

For this, you can communicate with any team member directly.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, I have illustrated why email is not the solution for working in teams, especially across different locations and/or timezones.

There’s advantages to be had by consolidating communication and sharing of information within a chosen platform where people can manage their time efficiently and work effectively.

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