Returning Sanctity to the Inbox: Active Engagement vs. Passive Consumption
Jarom Reid

Not much has changed about email.

For instance, that little red “!” in email? Do you love it when people capitalize the entire subject line in order to make you pay attention? What about when a new mail comes in with these: *** title of email ***? The correct answer is, “No.” No you don’t love it. No one loves it.

Outlook tried to help by adding colorful flags. They also introduced folder filtering so we could all have the power to socially profile our contacts and direct their crap to a specific folder so it would be easier to ignore. All of these, and more, were efforts designed to prioritize your email. The problem is that none of them work very well. And one of the main problems with email is the lack of flexibility when it comes to classifying the importance or nature of the content. Everything has pretty much the same level of importance. With email alone, it’s hard to make it all work out. But there’s another, better way.

This is why we can all benefit from deconstructing our workplace communications.

Active Engagement

Your inbox is a personal space and sometimes it can feel offensive when it is invaded by uninvited information. Just like junk mail in your physical mail box, you have to actively engage in order to clear away the mess. Occasionally, it’s easier to simply ignore the flood of irrelevant junk, but that often leads to an inbox with hundreds, if not thousands, of unread messages.

“You made me sign up for this group and now you send me a newsletter full of rubbish I don’t want?” you find yourself yelling at the screen. “Get out of my inbox and take your little, red ! with you.”

At Carpool, we don’t try to rid the world of email. It’s not a bad tool, it’s just that bad things have happened to it. Instead, we like email when it’s used well. Our hope is to bring back the sanctity of the inbox.

Remember way back when you registered your first email address, back in the days of Hotmail, AOL, and Juno? Back then, you probably got five, maybe even 10, emails in one day. And you were thrilled over each one. You treated each correspondence with the same time and respect that you would a physical letter placed in your mailbox. You read every word and responded to each question.

It can be that way again. Your inbox can once again be a dedicated place where formal and meaningful engagement deserve active participation in a conversation. The key is to diversify your communication platforms.

Yammer and Facebook at Work are a few of the new environments where we can actively engage with people and content in a different way. Think of enterprise social groups as a collection of folders (like email) for a community. You really only care about a few; others, not so much. The groups you really care about allow for a community or team of like-minded individuals to work out loud. Working out loud benefits more people and results in work getting done more quickly.

Passive Consumption

Enterprise social networks also allow us to passively consume information. We change our mindset when we receive a note/post much like we do with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or many other social networks. When large amounts of information are pushed to a group or community, we are still free to either engage or let it slip by unnoticed. This passive consumption method is a convenient way to absorb information in small bites. If email is like drinking from a firehouse, passive consumption through enterprise social is like taking a refreshing sip from a glass of ice water on a hot day.

By applying this simple filter to the communications strategy, we have a new opportunity to potentially redirect hundreds of emails a week to other platforms. This can help us reconstruct our communications channel and create more meaningful and efficient interactions with people and content that matter most to our daily work lives.

What Do You Think?

How packed is your inbox? Would you like to spread out your communications and take a more passive approach to consuming information that isn’t critical to your day-to-day? We want to know. Hit us up on Facebook and @carpooldigital.