With the rise of disruptive internal communication tools and various communication channels such as Jostle and Slack, the biggest debate within the communications fold has been regarding the possible death of email. Internal communicators around the globe want to know if email, as one of the key communications channel, will continue to survive in the near future? In the last few years, many have predicted the death of email and the overall dominance of Slack.
Perhaps the more important question for internal communicators to consider is whether employees still consider email as a key internal communications channel for receiving important information? Let’s consider the pros and cons of using Slack vs. Email to figure out the answer.
Disclaimer: Yes, we know we’re a little biased. We are, after all, an internal email tracking tool. However, at the end of the day, we believe in ensuring we provide information that ultimately makes the life of internal communicators easier. So if we find other communication channels to help internal communications peeps, we will shamelessly endorse them. ?
Examining Communication Channels in 2018: Slack vs. Email
Before we fully dive into the Slack vs. Email debacle, I want to ensure you’re fully aware of Slack and its features. For the benefit of those who’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, Slack is an instant messaging app specifically designed for effective communication in the workplace. Remember the chat rooms of the 90s? Yes, the shady ones where you would often pretend you were someone else.
Well, Slack is exactly like that. Except you know you’re communicating with your colleagues in the workplace. It offers an intuitive and customizable interface and allows you to share files, videos, GIFs and emojis and search for past messages.
The main feature that makes Slack so attractive for internal communications is the use of channels. Similar to chat rooms, channels enable communications between several coworkers. Users can also communicate directly with individuals using their user name (just like you would utilize a Twitter handle).
With channels, employees have the opportunity to avoid irrelevant emails. If you want the answer to a quick question, simply shoot your colleague a quick message via Slack and receive an immediate answer. Slack users claim that the utilization of this online collaboration tool has resulted in an average of 48% reduction in internal emails, and an average productivity increase of upto 32%.
But is Slack truly the answer to effortless internal communications? Let’s examine some of its benefits.
Advantages of Slack vs. Email as one of the Effective Communication Channels
1. Organizes and Streamlines the Internal Communications Process
So why use Slack for internal communications in the workplace? Well for starters, the “channels” feature offered by Slack enables excellent team communication. It allows teams to organize different topics to different channels, upload information for team use and also enables them to search for past conversations. As each channel has a specific topic, users are able to effectively communicate in the workplace with each other.
Slack also utilizes threads, enabling users to respond directly to a message in a channel without interrupting the flow of conversation. With Slack, you can effectively say goodbye to long email threads and overflowing inboxes by interacting in real-time through these instantaneous channels.
It is clearly a great online collaboration tool for team communication. Oh, and one of the official communication channels for declaring meme wars between various teams.
2. Great for Remote Workers and for Uplifting Team Spirit
Slack is available on desktop, Android and Apple, making it accessible to everyone, anywhere and on any device. For companies with dispersed teams across the globe, the instantaneous nature of Slack makes it an ideal tool for internal communications. And for those organizations that have remote workers, Slack makes everyone feel like they’re part of the team.
It’s an excellent replacement for any “watercooler chat” and certainly one of the most effective communication channels for boosting morale and employee engagement. You can have more light-hearted conversations and bond with colleagues over emojis, GIFs and memes. This in turn is great for igniting team spirit and productivity.
3. Tune In vs. Being Forced In
With email being a much more formal medium, there’s often this compulsion and necessity to respond. Slack removes any such compulsions and formalities. With Slack, you can post information into a channel about a topic and those who are interested can reply. If you decide you’re not interested in the topic, you can move on with other tasks without feeling like you’re being forced to join a party you have zero interest in attending.
There’s no doubt about the inherent advantages of using Slack as an effective internal communications tool. But has Slack replaced email? Or are we just using it as a procrastination tool to kill time at work, trying to out-meme each other? Let’s look at the other side of the debate.
Advantages of Email vs. Slack as One of the Key Communication Channels
1. Tune In vs. Being Forced In
I know I made this exact argument to defend and applaud Slack as one of the most effective communication channels that removes the compulsion to reply. Well, the very same argument can be made to defend email as well.
For teams solely relying on Slack as their main mode of internal communications (for example remote workspaces), it can sometimes be impossible to keep up with every single person’s opinion on a project within internal communications. And you are forced to continue the conversation, especially if Slack is the primary team communication tool to discuss an ongoing project.
The very fact that Slack is so instantaneous means that people expect instant replies. Email, on the other hand, is a lot like receiving a letter in your mailbox and you choose when you will respond. Slack can swamp you with data, giving you very little time to process information.
You could argue that the option to snooze notifications within Slack channels can help you tune out the excessive noise. But this can be detrimental if the snooze button prevents you from receiving news that may be critical. Whereas with email, you can sort through each email one by one and choose to respond whenever you are able to, ensuring you don’t miss out on any important information.
2. Email Ensures Privacy
As an internal communications professional, you are often privy to private and confidential information regarding your company as well as its employees. It’s your sacred duty to protect and guard that information to the best of your abilities.
Even though you may feel like your information is protected in Slack, this may not necessarily be the case. Administrators also have access to that information. The chances of email protecting private information is much higher. Information you share on communication channels such as Slack can also be subpoenaed by authorities. And that doesn’t sound very nice, does it?
Email can be subpoenaed too, but chances of your data being subpoenaed with a product like Slack are much higher.
3. Email Allows you to Track your Internal Communications
As an internal communicator, you need to be able to track, analyze and measure your internal communications efforts, especially if you need buy-in from top executives.
With email tools such as ContactMonkey Internal Comms, you are able to track and test your emails, personalize subject lines and send responsive HTML newsletters that look absolutely flawless from Outlook. Learn who opened your emails, test different subject lines and see which links received the highest click through rates.
With Slack, you have no way of knowing if anyone read your messages or clicked on your links. If you choose email as one of your main communications channel, you can use ContactMonkey Internal Comms tool to track your internal emails. This ensures you have a solid way of demonstrating to executive leadership how well your internal comms are performing and how you are engaging with employees.
4. Email is the Best Internal Communications Tool for a Multigenerational Workforce
Even though it may seem like Slack is replacing email with its attractive interface and the ability to immediately engage millennials, the fact of the matter is that you need to ensure your internal communications strategy is catering to a multigenerational workforce.
The multigenerational workplace also includes the baby boomers and the traditionalists. Many of these professionals from the older generations are simply not open to embracing the latest technological tools, even if it simplifies workplace communication.
When it comes to choosing the right internal communications tool, email has had a 45 year headstart over Slack and there’s just no beating that! It’s still the most widespread and effective tool for internal (and external) communications and one of the preferred communication channels for the majority of people in most workplaces.
According to a Lifewire article, 3.8 billion people will be using email by the end of 2018, which is almost 100 million more than the previous year. This means more than half of the entire world uses email at the moment! It goes without saying that if you want your internal communications to remain inclusive, you must ensure email remains a key communication tool for you in the workplace.
Ultimately, I think it’s fruitless to pit Slack vs. Email against each other. There’s no David and Goliath in this battle. In fact, there’s no battle at all. Slack is a magnificent tool for team communication and should be used as a supplement to email for the modern workplace. It may be more effective than email when it comes to managing remote workers and teams dispersed across different continents for project work (but that doesn’t render email as irrelevant in any way). It’s also a great way for instantaneous file sharing and for initiating small talk amongst colleagues.
However, email, being a more formal platform, will ensure that your messages are taken more seriously. It should definitely be your go-to platform for company wide announcements, sending email newsletters or for any other critical information that requires a serious response. Oh, and it’s the only effective way to track, measure and demonstrate the effectiveness of your internal communications.
So email is definitely not going anywhere. In fact, it’s thriving. I rest my case.
What are your thoughts on the Slack vs. Email debate? Which internal communications tools do you use in the workplace to enhance productivity? Let us know in the comments below or tweet to us.
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