I Work At HipChat, But These Are Four Times I Stick With Email (For Now) – Fast Company
But when it’s okay to wait, email still comes in handy. Not every issue requires escalation, an immediate reply, or any face time at all. And in fact, as instantaneous responses come to be more often expected, email’s less-urgent pace can still be a bit of a reprieve.
At Atlassian (HipChat’s parent company), we rarely use email to communicate internally. HipChat handles the bulk of our communication. But every employee still has an @Atlassian.com email address and uses it for very specific functions. One of the most obvious is as a public front door for people outside the organization to reach us.
Because the sender doesn’t see my presence or have any expectations about my availability, I can decide when and if I should respond. That can be helpful because it allows me to devote more attention to the real-time chats taking place among my team.
Chat platforms still aren’t that good (yet!) at long-form communication. For documents like a report that everyone on the team needs to receive and may want to file away for future reference, email can be a good option.
Still, even situations like this tend to run up against email’s limitations: The message is local and only available to the individual, updates need to be recommunicated, there can be version-control issues, and search can be inconsistent and difficult. So while we’ve switched to more collaborative tools at HipChat in order to jump over hurdles like these, other teams still rely on email to circulate long reports. And when there are fewer internal email messages overall to compete with, those otherwise cumbersome documents are less likely to get lost in the shuffle.
If you ask me, communications tools like HipChat are the future because they offer the kind of expressiveness we’re already gravitating toward in and outside the workplace. Especially for younger workers, increasingly dated tools like email feel like a step backward.You may as well hand them a landline phone and a big, heavy desktop PC.
In the meantime, though, email can still be useful. The more you start testing out a team chat tool, the more clearly defined your uses for email will become. This can help streamline and tame your team members’ otherwise unruly inboxes. And in the mid- to longer-term, whittling down your uses of email can help you figure out which other functions and workflows you can automate in a collaborative platform.