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How Would You Work Without Email?

Posted by on March 8, 2013

Sometimes when I speak with clients or companies interested in understanding the future of work and collaboration it helps to put things into an interesting perspective.  There are many people (including business leaders) out there who are still not up to speed on what is happening in the world of enterprise social software, collaboration, and the future of work.  When speaking with these people it’s a bit harder to conceptualize what something like  Jive, Yammer, Mango Apps, or Newsgator looks like or does.  Inherently I find that people understand the collaboration problems they are faced (such as difficulty finding people and information, duplication of content, lack of communication and collaboration across boundaries, etc) and they would like those problems solved, but can’t grasp the solution.

Many of us are so stuck and focused on email that we have blinders on.  Not only that but we continue to carry on the legacy mentality of how a company should be run (more on that later).  Well, what if there was no email?  How would you communicate and collaborate with your team.  You certainly wouldn’t be able to call everyone all the time or go visit their cubicle every time you needed something, now imagine you work for a large global company.

The “email does not exist” mindset is one that I like to play around with when speaking with companies who are interested in collaboration and the future of work because it forces them to think of alternatives and makes them think about new technologies and new behaviors.  Thankfully there are now more effective ways of working, communicating, and collaborating but our mindset hasn’t caught up to our potential for improving and evolving the workplace (at least not for most companies).

The reality is that the “how would you work without email” mentality should be the standard not the anomaly.

There is no email…



  • I think this is where the generational divide shows most starkly. My peers all grew up with email and it is where they live. Their work comes to them in email and it is completed in email. When email is “down,” a lot of them just don’t work! Unfortunately, as you have pointed out elsewhere, these are the people making decisions affecting how we use technology to improve productivity. Clearly alternative methods of demonstrating the value proposition for social collaboration are needed. The no-email scenario is a good one!

  • Anna Pham

    Well, before emails, peopel still can work, but the speed would be decreased without email.