20 Apr

Say Goodbye To The Full Email Inbox

By in Tips & Guides on April 20, 2012

We’ve all been there. You’re coming back to the office after being out for a while. A few days, a week, *gasp* a few weeks. And you know what’s waiting for you… A huge pile of unread email, and the grueling job of going through it to catch up with what you missed.

The folks at Yammer sympathize with you. I just came back from a few days in sunny Arizona, and I also had to catch up, but it only took me an hour or two to do it. During that time, I was inspired to write this post about how Yammer messages beat a full email inbox any day. The reasons are: visibility, usability, and relevance.

Yammer messages are highly visible

This is the easiest benefit to see, and perhaps the biggest win.  People can’t take on your email workload when you’re out of the office, simply because they don’t know about it. Yammer messages, however, are out in the open, and thus anyone who sees them can take action. When an issue comes in, it doesn’t stay hidden and — even worse — escalate and pile on, until you get back. Many times you’ll find that someone else had already chimed in to help. Because the whole conversation is still there, you can see who’s involved and you know if there’s more to be done. As a result, you just reduced your to-do list dramatically!

Yammer helps you divide and conquer

Yammer networks are centered around the idea of groups. You can create these separate workspaces for anything based on need: departments, projects, recurring social events, or a place to share recipes with your co-workers. The idea is that some of these will have messages you want to see right away, like the group for your current hot project. And some will be things you can get to at your leisure.

You can easily triage my messages because each group has a separate count of your unread messages. For example, I can see that there are 5 messages for the Engineering group that I need to see, along with 20+ messages in the Book Club group to discuss the latest read. I’ll hit those 5 and move on with my day knowing I didn’t miss anything important (especially if I didn’t finish the book).

As a result, you can now confidently skip lots of messages because they’re not relevant to you, while focusing on the mission-critical messages to help you get back up to speed. This is sounding better already, right?

Yammer helps you decide what’s important

Another issue that makes a wall of unread emails frustrating is that you know many of them don’t require your direct attention. Perhaps someone cc’ed you as a courtesy. Maybe someone wasn’t sure who should get the message, and the recipient list is huge. In email, you can’t see which ones require action, and which ones are “nice to know” —  you’ll have to read all the messages to find out.

Yammer messages are delivered to groups, not just individuals (though this is also possible). In fact, it’s common not to list individuals at all. Because everyone can see the message, anyone in the group who’s knowledgeable can field the question. Yammer allows your co-workers to also add you to the cc: recipient list for a message, which sends you a notification.

Don’t be afraid to leave the office for too long

We took the pile of unread email and turned it into groups of unread messages that already have markers of importance and relevance. This is a powerful workflow, and a shift from the usual way people interact with email. If you’ve ever tried to set up automatic filtering and labeling in email clients, you know that getting it right is also a frustrating experience, which takes a lot of time and curation.

Yammer strives to create an environment where everyone helps organize things by default, so the burden of organization doesn’t rest on any one person. Because everything I need is in Yammer, I get very few emails these days. We’ve seen this trend across lots of our customer as well, with reports of 30%-50% fewer emails at our customers who fully embrace posting to Yammer.

It’s important to note that Yammer works best when we all pitch in. Aside from just getting your co-workers to give it a try, it pays to encourage the behavior that reduces noise and increases relevance for everyone. Encourage others to practice good etiquette: target your messages to groups of people instead of individuals, create groups as needed, and, most importantly, share more things. You can’t help your coworkers act on emails that are hidden in their inboxes, so encourage sharing!

If you want to avoid the dreaded full email inbox, Yammer can help.


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