Communication is essential for productive business. The problem is that we are all busy people. People don’t always have time to respond to emails otalk on the phone. Luckily, the instant messaging market has never been better - and businesses all over the world are using applications like Slack and Microsoft Teams to improve all areas of communication. In this blog, we ask: can instant messaging prevail over the goliath that is email? And when is the best time to use each communication tool?

Email is going nowhere

The great thing about email is everyone in and out of the professional world is familiar with it. From baby boomers to millennials, every generation has sent an email. And no matter how many great communication tools come on the market, email is going nowhere.

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When you should send an email

Emails have a level of formality that instant messages don’t. This can be seen as a good or bad thing. While an email may be a flawed method to send a casual reminder or ask a quick question, it is a valid choice when it comes to:

● Setting up an interview

● Making first contact with a new client

● Sending a contract

● Managing disciplinary action

Email leaves a solid paper trail, is easier to track and archive, which is integral for these more formal conversations.

The trouble with email

Using email as your default communication tool is less than ideal. Not only is email old fashioned and overly formal, it’s majorly unproductive. The number of emails sent and received per day is set to exceed 347 billion by the end of 2023. That’s a whole lot of chain mail to wade through! Furthermore, the average worker receives about 121 emails a day. But don’t worry - it gets worse. A survey by Adobe found people in the workplace spend on average 3.1 hours per day sending and checking their emails alone, amounting to 15.5 hours per week - and a shocking 20 full weeks of the year. Could you think of a couple of things you would rather have your employees doing with their time?

Instant messaging isn’t just for teenagers

On the other side of the coin is instant messaging services, like:

Skype for Business

Microsoft Teams

Slack

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When you should use instant messaging

Instant messaging may not be the place to have a formal conversation, but for all other internal communication, it’s ideal. Thanks to a host of tailorable features, instant messaging is perfect for collaboration. Some of these include; Team’s Office 365 and calendar integrations, which allows you to schedule meetings and edit documents while you chat.

Why we love instant messaging

The beauty of instant messaging is in the name - it’s instant. Colleagues can communicate quickly and seamlessly - sometimes with something as simple as a click of the ‘thumbs up’ button. While your employees may waste time grappling over the appropriate pleasantries; ‘Do I sign this email off with yours sincerely, or yours faithfully?’, with instant messaging you can speak freely. Furthermore, where email slows down productivity, instant messaging flourishes. It should come as no surprise that Slack has been reported to improve productivity by 30%.

One thing to remember about instant messaging

If left unregulated, it could hamper productivity. At the end of the day, it’s still more notifications to deal with. And since it’s a complement to email, an extra distraction. Due to its “instant” nature, messages will come in more frequently than emails, putting us in a state of constant distraction. Lucas Miller, lecturer at Haas School of Business and co-founder of Stoa Partners the productivity consultancy agrees.

“Technology advances usually supplant what has come before but Slack hasn’t, it’s just doubled the pain.”

That’s not to say that instant messaging is to be feared. But it should be treated with care. Be sure to use it sparingly and use any kind of notification silencing “do not disturb function” when you need to perform focused work. And also, don’t use it to conduct more meetings and calls than you’d normally agree to.

Don’t let email hold you back

The key thing to remember here is that; the principles of good communication haven’t changed. Being concise, polite, and informative are important as ever, no matter what communication platform you choose. While email definitely has its strengths, don’t let its formality and unproductive nature hold you back. When it comes to lightning-fast response time, heightened collaboration, and interactive features, instant messaging is the obvious choice. If you would like to learn more about how technology can improve your business's communication, why not book a free business technology consultation today.

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Communication