Collaborative communication tools: A guide to working without email

Joe Svetlik

Friday 14 November 2014

We’re drowning in emails. According to email filter company Sanebox, employees spend an average of 13 hours a week going through their inboxes. But internal communication doesn’t have to get lost in the deluge, thanks to these handy tools.

The drive to ‘inbox zero’

‘Inbox zero’doesn’t mean keeping your inbox empty at all times, just spending as little time as possible going through it. There are far more efficient ways to communicate and collaborate, after all. But it can be hard to keep track if one person is contacting you on Skype, another on Google Hangouts and yet another on Yahoo Messenger. Thankfully, these tools can replace all of these programs, simplifying communication within your team.


Slack is a one-stop shop for all your communication needs. You create channels, which are like topics of discussion, and use instant message-style missives to communicate with the relevant parties. You can send all kinds of documents –just drag and drop them in –and it integrates with a huge number of programs like Dropbox, Google Hangouts, Papertrail, Jira, Buildbucket and too many others to mention. You can embed sound files from Soundcloud too, so you don’t have to exit the app to listen to them. And thanks to the mobile app, leaving the office doesn’t mean falling out of the loop.


Essentially a social network for businesses, Convo again lets you communicate through real-time messages. You can share documents such as PDFs, and comment and review them with markups, all from within the app. Every time someone @mentions you, you’ll get a notification, so you won’t miss a thing. Need to talk about something only relevant to a couple of people? Create a new room and discuss it without bothering anyone else. It’s the next best thing to sitting next to your colleagues.


Another business-focussed social network, but this one was bought by Microsoft in 2012 and integrates seamlessly with Office 365. Hence you’ll soon be able to collaboratively edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents right from within Yammer. Like Convo and Slack, it’s searchable too, so you’ll always be able to find what you want.

Communication is the lifeblood of any business. If you’re relying on email, you’re a step behind the competition.