In some companies email is still a pretty big thing. In big companies it may surely be a main thing. But I just won’t accept that email = work. Email is a means to an end.  And with all the tools we have nowadays, it’s not always (usually not!) the best tool to get the job done.

About 2 years ago I personally experienced that you can make a shift from email to a collaboration platform. At that time I was a consultant for a large bank and the main worktool was email. Until we introduced an Enterprise Social Network. An open collaboration platform, connecting all employees worldwide. Being part of the Collaboration team, it was my job to be a frontrunner,  a change agent and obviously expected to eat my own dogfood. There you go: Shifting work from email to collaboration. Working out loud. Participating in various groups for the various parts of my job. Setting up agenda’s for meetings, taking notes and sharing updates. All online. This lead to the skipping meetings altogether, because the meeting itself became unnecessary.   Everything we used to do in the meeting had already been done online, and more…

Wow. So this is how work can be! It’s exciting and inspiring to connect and collaborate online with colleagues, no matter where they are on the planet.

And then back to reality, when I started working elsewhere.  Cause not every company has a platform which facilitates online collaboration. Of course you have the regular social platforms, but being restricted with compliancy regulations, email still rules. Time for some more rebel power 🙂

In 2014 I was inspired by Kim Spinder, a rebel with a cause and founder of We Quit Mail. Like Luis Suarez (the man outside the inbox), she was a strong advocate and ambassador for life without email. Practicing what she preaches, she shows that it can be done. I joined the WeQuitMail week, and put myself on a serious email-diet, allowing myself to send just 5 mails a day.

The week was an adventure. The best thing being that it wasn’t just affecting me, but my colleagues too. Because in order to work with me, they had to find different ways than email. And they became pretty inventive. So it worked both ways.

That week helped me in building an image of being a #NoEmail rebel. Sharing my tips for cutting down on email and, a while ago, introducing the weekly #NoEmailDay . This approach appeals to many colleagues because it’s doable. Although the trick is not to dive into all the email you missed on your #NoEmailDay on your next regular working day.
Anyway, bit by bit, colleagues are following the example and trying out wat works for them.

In the meantime I have also been working on providing a good alternative within the organization. Expanding the functionalities of our internal social platform from communication to collaboration. Enabling the use of workgroups for online social teamwork. We’re still in a trial phase, but in September the full functionality will be available for all colleagues. No more excuses. We can now all work out loud (without email). Although I strongly believe it is not about technology, it’s about a mindset. And the awareness that you can be more productive if you change your way of working. Be more open and collaborative.

My personal benefit is that having an image of not being fond of email, others are creative in the way they work with me. Thinking twice before sending an email. Which all adds to an ongoing decline in the nonproductive use of email.