Inbox Zero: It’s a dream shared by many but accomplished by few. It's hard enough to achieve when you are just dealing with emails sent directly to you. It becomes that much more challenging when you add in all the emails where you are only copied.
Depending on your work, you might be copied on dozens or even hundreds of emails every day, but how many of them actually matter to you? Likely not many. Can you reduce the time you spend triaging copied emails so that you can focus your time on tasks that matter?
The answer is unequivocally yes. Say hello to shared inboxes. Shared inboxes focus your attention on the most important emails while ensuring your access to all team emails.
CC’s and BCC’s: The bane of Inbox Zero and team productivity
Think about the emails you are CC’d on in a given day. Chances are you could ignore most of them and not miss anything important. Whether it's a colleague who all too often hits "reply all" when they only want to respond to a single person or the team lead who always copies the entire team no matter what they are sending, your coworkers can inadvertently drown you in messages you never need to read.
But you can’t simply skip all CC’d emails because some are assigning you tasks or requesting information specifically from you. So you have no choice but to spend valuable time triaging emails and assigning them importance. The only way out is to be judicious when it comes to using CC and BCC.
And then there are chains in which every team member decides to CC a different subset of the team. Chains often become erratic, and team members lose the context of prior discussions. So now, not only do you have to triage emails, but you have to try and reconstruct missing information from other sources so you have the whole picture.
There must be a better way, right?
The collaborative inbox: making the most of team communication
So how exactly does a team inbox or collaborative inbox differ from just CC’ing the whole team on an email? Rather than simply being an alias for a group of individual email addresses, a fully featured shared inbox like Zoho TeamInbox serves as a single unified location for team communication.
In traditional group email environments, team members use a group email to send messages to all team members. Replies are most often then forwarded to the group email as well so that the whole team is aware the email has been dealt with by the appropriate team member. Often, all team members don’t need to worry about the content of the response. But in a traditional group email environment, you still have to read the emails and responses to know if you need to read the emails and responses. Reading email threads is usually a time-intensive and inefficient process.
Compare this to a team inbox. In a team inbox, replies or comments can tag specific team members with @mentions, so you know immediately when you need to review specific parts of a thread.
Moreover, you never need to sift through multiple instances of a thread to follow the team communication: all responses and replies for a thread are consolidated in one location.
Also, as shared inboxes are typically cloud-based, they offer simplified "any time, anywhere" access.
Shared inboxes don’t just reduce the overall amount of email you need to read; they provide additional benefits making overall team communication and collaboration more efficient. With a good shared inbox, you will never have to worry about:
Who to CC or whether you CC’ed the right people. The team always receives every message and every response.
The right team members seeing the right messages. When you need a team member to pay particular attention to a message, you can just tag them.
Team members misunderstanding messages because of inconsistent CC'ed message threads. All replies are available to all team members at all times.
Shared inboxes help you easily identify what is important and what you can skip, allowing you and your team to be more productive.
Shared inbox software: building a better inbox
The get the most out of a team inbox, you want to use shared inbox software that offers convenience and flexibility without overwhelming you with messages. Some features to look for in shared inbox software include:
Enhance team collaboration by assigning threads to team members in your shared inbox. With designated team members assuming responsibility for threads, the team is better able to focus on their specific tasks. They can return to other threads as time allows or when they are @mentioned.
Allowing team members to prioritize threads helps them focus on tasks and conversations most important to them. By choosing to follow important threads, snooze less important threads, or archive completed threads, team members can reduce mailbox clutter and streamline their task flows.
Automatic processing for messages that arrive in the shared inbox reduces the amount of time team members need to spend on email triage. Look for systems that include rules-based processing of emails. The time spent setting up the rules will be more than recovered later.
You need to be able to trust that your team communications are secure, and it is just as crucial that messages reaching the team inbox aren’t vehicles for cyberattacks on your company.
In recent years, the number of phishing emails sent daily has expanded exponentially to the point that phishing emails have become the most common security threat since the COVID crisis began. It is essential to ensure that your shared inbox provider offers high-level security.
Shared email inbox management: simplified email triage
With a shared email inbox like Zoho TeamInbox in place,you can improve your previously cumbersome email triage process in a snap. When an email arrives in the team inbox, it is quickly assigned to a team member to oversee. The rest of the team is immediately aware that they are not responsible for the message. They can then choose to reply, follow, snooze, or archive the thread depending on their personal level of responsibility.
As the thread continues, if the designated team member needs input from other team members, they can @mention them for quick answers. These other team members can then review as much of the thread as necessary to respond, with the comfort of knowing nothing is missing and that there are no parallel versions of the thread elsewhere.
Communicate better, collaborate better, work together better
In an age where we are constantly overloaded with information and bombarded by messages of all kinds, it's crucial to have tools that can effectively reduce the noise. Shared inboxes do just that. With complete access to team communications and focused messaging to the right team members at the right times, shared inboxes allow the team to spend less time processing messages and more time working on the things that really matter.
Author bio: Gary Stevens
Gary Stevens is the CTO of Hosting Canada, a website that expertly reviews hosting services to help readers build online businesses and blogs.