Although Gmail and Slack are great communications tools, they tend to complicate the file storage process. Before the introduction of these tools into the workplace, marketers faced the issue of employees harboring attachments in their inboxes without uploading them to a company drive. However, the integration of Gmail and Slack compounded this issue, causing employees to have attachments scattered across all three channels. This leads to employees lacking access to the latest file versions, disrupting other employees to locate files or losing files altogether.
In this article, Eichner details the features of Slack and Gmail, and how both tools can better be used to reduce file-related disruptions in the workplace
Marketers have been living in an email space for decades. It’s become ingrained into the workflow, and everyone is accustomed to sending emails with attachments. However, it’s not uncommon for employees to get so caught up in the hustle of work, that simple tasks like filing away an attachment have become an afterthought. In this regard, email has essentially become its own storage device. Rather than uploading the file to a storage drive, some employees hoard attachments in their inboxes.
Despite email serving as a makeshift storage drive, the introduction of Slack and the increasing prominence of Gmail have added to unforeseen unproductive work moments. Each time files are shared through these platforms; companies run the risk of file duplicity. Essentially, communication and collaboration happen instinctively, but organizing is an afterthought.
Slack and Email are Colliding
Slack has exploded in the workplace within the last three years. It’s changing the future of the work environment to be more agile, real-time and immediate for sharing and collaborating. Part of the value of such quick communication is the ability to share files quickly with larger groups faster than possible with email, but doing so compounds the file storage problem even more. Now employees not only have to search their company drives and emails when trying to locate files, but they have to search Slack as well. Slack has enhanced its search functions with the ability to search by channel, file type, people and modifiers. However, it lacks the punch needed to identify files based on image recognition, tags and a holistic view of files outside the application.
Gmail’s new interface makes locating files easier than in the past. Gmail changed the way files are displayed to make it easier for users to locate them. With the old Gmail, users would see a paperclip icon with a file attached, but now users get a tag with their files displayed prominently. However, despite Gmail’s improvements, it still lacks image recognition and full-text language processing. Even though Gmail offers decent filtering to find files, it still requires much sorting for people who never delete emails or regularly use an external drive.
Read More: Google AMP for Gmail: A Marketer’s View
If you’re a Google and Slack shop here’s a typical scenario in your company. Slack advocates share messages and files habitually throughout the day. Inevitably, a team member downloads the file, works offline on edits, then circulates the file via email to an extended group of colleagues. The uncalculated outcome from the pairing of Gmail and Slack leads to version management and file inventory entanglement. For disciplined employees, this forces them to spend several minutes or more searching for the most recent version application by application. Time being precious, most of us think ‘who sent the file and where do I remember receiving it’ and check one application without giving a thought if a more recent version exists elsewhere. In the end, this leads employees to either end up working on a file that’s not up-to-date or disturbing a coworker to ask him or her to help you locate the most recent file version. Despite the immense benefits of email and Slack, together they perpetuate version management blackholes.
Interestingly enough, Slack’s goal is to kill email altogether. It’s a lofty goal that will require a tectonic shift in our collaboration behavior across every industry. In the meantime, we live in a world of two factions’ email and Slack. The generational divide may speed up the transformation with internal communications, but external exchanges will lag the holistic adoption of Slack to replace email soon.
Read More: G Suite’s Gmail Rolls out with New Features
How Companies Can Best Manage These Platforms
Because Gmail and Slack have gained considerable traction over the past few years, marketers should understand how to use these platforms best to increase productivity while also reducing distractions. Both Slack and Gmail are vital tools for interacting and making business decisions, but businesses should understand the new challenges these solutions create in the workplace.
Although all of these tools are great on their own, using Gmail and Slack simultaneously can cause disarray beyond what was ever intended. When these are used in tandem, files get lost, employees get disturbed, and the latest file versions don’t get saved. By being aware of the effects these technologies have on the workplace, marketers can better develop solutions to decrease file chaos and increase employee productivity.
So, what’s the answer? Links whenever possible. If you’re a GSuite or Office365 shop, links minimize version management challenges. As opposed to emailing or Slacking the actual file, share a link to the file. This way, when you share the link everyone has the original version. If it’s a Google Doc or Word, the team can make inline edits everyone can view. This way companies can limit the prevalent file version conundrum the bloated tech stack inadvertently proliferated.