Emails are good for sending messages. But people frequently misuse them for a variety of other things as well. Meetings can be productive, but they’re often a complete waste of time. This is precisely where an intranet can come in.

Here, take a look at my notebook: I’ve just pulled up our blog where we publish our articles every day. As you can see, we’ve ripped this subject apart at least a dozen times in the blog. Everybody knows the problem. And if you’re not affected yourself, you know a whole bunch of people who are, who complain about emails all the time. There are just too many of them. It takes too much time to read and deal with them. Later on, the time you spent working on them doesn’t feel like it was productive. You end up exhausted, and you still have that dull feeling that you haven’t achieved anything significant.

Email Chaos – Pervasive, Highly discussed, Unresolved

Do you think I’m exaggerating when I describe email as potentially one of the most toxic elements in your work environment when it comes to personal productivity? There are few roles in any organization in which processing personal emails is considered a key function. Despite this, you never start the workday without looking at your emails, do you? 

After returning from their vacation, why do so many people feel obliged to go through their hopelessly cluttered inbox as the first thing they do? Why do they spend so much time looking through their inbox? Why do emails fill up the few breaks and breathers they have during their working day? There are even people who check their inbox on their cellphones while they’re in the restroom. 

Why does anyone do that? The first reason is that emails are everywhere. If you’re still one of the very few who can’t access their emails on their smartphone on the move, then you’re a rare breed. Emails can be downloaded and read everywhere: on your computer, on your smartphone, on your tablet. Downloading them is easy; it happens on its own in the background and you can even deal with your emails when you don’t have any internet. As a technology, the digital letter is so elementary and simple that we use it constantly. Your intranet will also build on the success of emails and you’ll want to integrate it as a communication medium. Every good piece of software in a company is compatible with or sends emails.

The second main reason for the success of email is our curiosity. Email functions quite well as a personalized news portal on your intranet. The emails you receive are just meant for you. Someone, even if it was just a piece of software, sent you an email - to your address. It’s not just a coincidence. Even spammers have long since stopped sending out random emails. Instead, they send them to your email address because they got it from somewhere. Email is relevant – even as relevant as text messages are. But that’s another subject, and it’s far from being as widespread in organizations today.

Emails are successful because they’re readily accessible and personal. As the person responsible for your intranet, this is something you need to acknowledge. You shouldn’t get carried away making frivolous promises about curbing or even eliminating the need for email with an intranet. I’ve been involved in dozens of situations where the foundation of the intranet budget was based on combating email and even eliminating it. Perhaps somewhat extreme, but not unusual.

Nowadays, email is used for a wide variety of things that an intranet can do better. Is this the case in your organization as well? That’s what I thought. So, in this case, you can get away with making promises. But let’s come back to that later. Please send me a reminder email.

What’s important at this point is that you perceive the ambiguity of email. It’s good and evil at the same time. It all depends on how you use it. Emails are great for providing pure information that requires no interaction. If the task can be completed by simply reading the email, then there’s hardly a better medium than email, even today. Texts are good as well, although they usually require a reaction, which can then be performed using a special app – which, in our case, is the intranet. 

Don’t promise that by introducing an intranet you’ll get rid of email in your organization, but rather offer a more differentiated scenario: “We’ll make sure that we all spend less time on emails. We’ll map co-working processes on the intranet. We’ll eliminate email where it’s used incorrectly, and use it in areas where it’s strong. This won’t necessarily lead to fewer emails, but their character will change, which, in turn, will impact how they’re dealt with. In the future, we’ll also receive emails from “the intranet.” And they’ll land in a special folder. And if you don’t have the time, simply don’t look at them for a couple of days.

In short: emails are good for information. The intranet also uses email for this purpose. But the medium is often used incorrectly in our daily work. And that’s where a good intranet comes in. 

In the long term, we can find more effective and productive ways of spending our time than reading, answering, and managing emails. 

Meeting Hell – Constantly Talking about Everything is Not a Solution 

Besides email, your working day also includes time spent using other time-consuming communication formats. Think for a moment: what format have you spent the most time on (in addition to email) in the past week? Aha, meetings – I thought so.

If someone wants to get something done, they hold a meeting and rescue both themselves and everybody else in the “spotlight of the synchronous gathering,” which is usually characteristic of a staff meeting. In a meeting, you can’t simply work on your emails or make phone calls or text – at least not without severely irritating or even annoying others in attendance.

When we sit in a room with two or three others discussing our next trade fair appearance, we inevitably have to work on the trade fair appearance together. We can call that productive because there are fewer distractions. Most of the time, however, not everyone who is actually working on the trade fair appears in this meeting. In hierarchical organizations, the boss may simply tell you what to do. At a minimum, this means that everyone is more or less on the same page. Which almost feels good, doesn’t it, with so many distractions everywhere you turn?

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The Social Intranet

Foster collaboration and strengthen communication. Be effective with enterprise intranets mobile and in the cloud.

Virtual Collaboration in Companies: Social Intranets as a Digital Home 

Never before has the business world been so overrun by cloud software and specialized vendors as it is now. There is so much software out there that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of things. It is all the more important for the future of work to have a place for digital meeting - a reliable home port meaningfully networked with numerous other systems that makes it quick and easy to navigate. This will increase transparency in the company and make collaboration more effective. Based on many years of experience, this book tells you how it already works in today's digitalized world and which trends you probably should rather than shouldn't follow.

About the author

Martin Seibert was 17 when he founded the software company Seibert Media. Twenty-four years later, it has nearly 200 employees and generates 35 million euros in annual sales. He has been sharing his enthusiasm for technology in YouTube videos for many years - and now also in his new book about social intranets.

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This content was last updated on 03/31/2021.

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