A study on internal team communication found that while 60% of employees send an email at least once a week, a full 80% see email overload as a problem for their team.
Yet teams stick to email for the same reason people stick to any bad habit — we get used to it despite the drawbacks. Making a change seems like an awful lot of work. Better the devil you know…
At Doist, our goal was to stop using email for internal communication. Entirely. Important information was siloed in people’s inboxes. Key conversations couldn’t be easily shared. It kept getting worse as our team (and the number of emails) grew.
When we tried Slack, we found that group chat supplemented email rather than replacing it. We still needed a place to hold longer-term discussions around particular topics where key information wouldn’t be swept away by the currents of chat. We designed Twist to incorporate the best of team chat — transparent, searchable conversations — and the best of email — on-topic discussions that allow for slower, more thoughtful conversations.
Today, our team of 52 people spread across the world sends zero internal emails. If your team is thinking about switching to Twist, here are a few tips on how to help your team make the transition away from email:
Important information to share? Start a thread
Every time you find yourself reaching for the email compose button, start a Twist thread instead. Like email, threads allow for longer, thoughtful comments around a particular topic, but instead of being locked in an inbox, they’re organized in public channels that anyone can browse and search. Here are a few ways you can put threads to use for your team:
Make decisions transparent
Build trust by keeping important discussions organized and accessible to the whole team. For instance, you could create a “Strategy” channel, start a thread about your mission statement, and notify your team leads. They can respond to the thread on their own schedule and the thread is easy to find later. The best part is that any team member can browse the channel threads and catch up on what’s being discussed. It sets a tone of openness and honesty for the whole team and ensures that important information is accessible to everyone.
Transparency works both ways — leaders can visit project and team channels to connect with teams and their work directly.
Organize important documents in channels
Have you ever had to find an email attachment from half a year ago? After racking your brain, “Who sent it? What was the subject? When exactly was that?”, you give up. One study found that it takes workers up to 8 searches to find the right information.
In Twist, you can keep important documents easily accessible by creating a channel — for example #Admin — and create new threads for each key document like payroll, HR, facilities, expense reporting, etc. People can then download the docs as well as ask questions and get answers in the thread, building up a natural FAQ.
As time passes and the number of important documents balloons, you can search a Twist channel by keywords, author, and date to find exactly what you need days, weeks, and even years later.
Share weekly updates
Use Twist to share weekly progress updates and keep your team on the same page. We have a #Doist Snippets channel where we start new threads to share what we accomplished last week and what’s on deck for the upcoming one. It’s encouraging when your teammates can review your progress and leave a short reaction emoji rather than feeling like you’re shouting into a void in email.
Send your (many) email notifications directly to Twist
One sales manager who now uses Twist was forwarding 40+ sales inquiry emails to coworkers every day. Not fun. Now she auto-forwards new lead emails as Twist threads in a #New clients channel. Once in Twist, she can notify the necessary teammates and everyone can comment to decide on next actions.
You can set up rules to auto-forward emails that match certain criteria, or easily create a Zapier integration (or Zap) to send a copy of all your email@example.com emails to a Twist channel of your choice.
Here are a few other ways to reduce your email notification load by using Twist:
- Cut down on Google Doc email notifications by using a Zap that posts a thread comment whenever someone updates a doc.
- Whenever you receive a payment or order in your e-commerce tool, Twist can automatically start a thread using Zaps for QuickBooks, Xero, and Stripe.
- Have new and updated support tickets posted automatically in Twist. Check out these Zaps connecting Twist to Zendesk or Desk.
Work with external collaborators in Twist instead of email
Working with external agencies, contractors, and freelancers can be a huge pain. It’s even harder if your only point of contact is a single email thread with a dozen different stakeholders CC’d.
Instead, invite external collaborators to Twist as guests. A guest can only access the channels that you give them access to. It’s like bringing someone into your office, giving them a desk, and letting them work alongside your team on a specific project. They’ll be able to ask questions, post updates, and get feedback in a single, organized place that the rest of your team has access to.
A few tips to keep the team from lapsing
People don’t change their habits overnight, and getting a whole team to switch to a new tool is bound to be challenging. Here a few quick tips to make the transition easier:
Forward emails to Twist
Until your team gets accustomed to Twist, email conversations are going to pop up. Whenever that happens, you can forward emails to Twist as new threads or comments and continue the conversation there.
Make threads & comments readable
Keep Twist organized
Organize your channels and threads in a way that’s intuitive for your team. Start by grouping channels by team, project, or topic. You can always edit channel names and move threads to different channels later. Make sure your team understands your channel naming structure so they can easily find the information they need.
Hold a no-email week
If you really want to get people off email, launch Twist with a no-email week. Challenge your team to start a thread any time they find themselves emailing a coworker. One Twist admin simply stopped responding to her team’s emails and had everyone accustomed to reaching her on Twist within the week.
There’s no one “right” way to work with your team. It’s crucial to experiment with new tools to find the way that works for your unique workflows. For more ideas on how to make Twist work for your team, head over to the Getting Started section in the Twist Help Center.