Why Collaboration Tools are able to Ease Your Life over Emails: The Exact Reason

 Last Updated: December 9, 2016

 December 9, 2016

If you've used any team collaboration tool sometime, have you ever thought about how exactly is it able to ease your life over emails?

Why exactly your number of emails get reduced due to a collaboration tool and if they do, whether that translates into the same number of messages you get in the collaboration tool? So basically are your emails just getting shifted from one form to another with your overall communication volume remaining the same? Or maybe even greater than before?

Let's hold this thought for a while.




If you have used Google Docs some time, you might have noticed something:

collaboration in a google doc real time

You are posting something on a particular page in cyberspace. Other people are able to see that so that all of you can co-edit that Gdoc / Gsheet, take that back to a particular time using 'Revision History' and basically do all sorts of dynamic stuff.

Compare this with an Email.

architecture of email

An email, or a bunch of code that builds an email, is relayed from one server to another. An email, once sent, can't be taken back. Once an information leaves your email provider's server, it can't return and hence, is unchangeable. Basically saying that there's nothing like 'Undo' for a sent email. Though some email clients hold up that email for some time so that you can choose to 'Undo' the send, but that's just a workaround.

Now superimpose this logic on a Google Doc - like architecture, where you don't send or receive anything. We post your email onto a page or a wall and not relay it from one server to another.

applying the logic of real time google docs to an email

Do you realize the difference?

In this case, you can:

  • delete what you just sent (posted)
  • change the subject or the body of it
  • toggle the recipients at your wish, whenever you want to, and even after sending it (or posting it, in this case). 
  • attach and delete files in real-time
  • toggle threading so that you change which message is associated with which thread
  • opt-out / unfollow a message thread

and do many more such dynamic changes. These obviously aren't possible with conventional emails.

Apart from this, it should also logically decreases your communication volume by some straight ways:

  1. Including people in this thread won't take firing an extra message like in regular emails. So you can say goodbye to such messages which are fired just to include more people in threads
  2. You can opt out / unfollow such message threads. So if you are tagged wrongly in a thread, you don't have to tell others not to inlude you from next message.
  3. It decreases the asynchronousness of emails. Yes, you can see stuff posted on a wall. Please note that I am not talking about real-time communication here, which depends on the nature of app, but the visual feel of posting on a page. This directly results in reduced number of phonecalls and meetings as it's a form of meeting that's happening on that wall, right?
  4. The to and fro emails that happen while setting up meetings - just gone! You can just put down a time right there on that wall. Others can read it and change it if they don't like!
  5. Sending emails again as you forgot to put an attachment? That's gone too! Now these attachments are also linked to this wall so that they are accessible all the time.
  6. You could also apply all sorts of muting and snoozing now, which wasn't that easy in case of emails.

So you see, collaboration tools technically do reduce your communication volume to a certain extent due to their 'Wall-like' nature.

At the same time, I don't think emails are going extinct either as their exact nature of not getting posted on a 'Wall', and hence not being in control of the party that owns that 'Wall' (or for that matter, anybody else) is a power that can't be taken away from it.  

Your thoughts?

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