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2014: The year of effective email management

Recent research by McKinsey Global Institute has shown that workers typically spend two and a half hours each day – more than a quarter of their time at work – dealing with emails.

There is no doubt that email communication is an essential and unavoidable part of our business lives and, managed efficiently in an increasingly collaborative environment, plays a central role in how we undertake and complete business tasks. The problem is how to achieve the right balance. As we feel compelled to read and respond quickly to an ever-growing inbox, this inevitably has a knock-on effect on our ability to undertake other tasks in a timely and effective way. In this daily juggling act, the risk is that balls will be dropped, with potentially damaging results to the business.

One of the biggest challenges facing users is the siloed nature of email and other office technologies. For example, any attempt to switch between an email application and file manager when working on the same task can be slow and stressful, particularly when deadlines have to be met. Similarly searching for attachments is also likely to be problematic, especially if they are no longer linked with the original email.

Yet these problems can be easily and cost-effectively overcome. The following tips highlight how users can improve their email management and minimise the frustrations and concerns around lost data:

1. An integrated approach

Most of todays web-based email platforms cannot integrate with desktop files or folders. So, while it is possible to access most applications from a variety of devices, the fact that the email system doesnt support file saving and editing can compromise operational effectiveness and data security. This siloed approach also means that users are on their own when it comes to organising and retrieving documents in ensuring effective communication.

However, supporting a standard email client with an advanced personal information and file manager will ensure that all information associated with a specific project or activity can be saved in the same Windows folder. Together with the ability to mark, add tags and assign categories, this makes it easier to access and manage any email information.

2. Making security a priority

Security is often bottom of the priority list when considering email management, yet making your email harder to hack is important if you want real assurance around storing and sending of confidential information.

A series of simple steps will ensure a higher level of data security. For example, rather than adopting the same password (or similar variants) for multiple applications, it is much safer to create a series of complex passwords combining upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters, in each case. Similarly, when answering security or password reset questions, the threat of hacking can be substantially reduced by taking care to provide answers that only the individual could possibly know.

The key here is to remember that such answers dont have to be honest or accurate: they simply have to be memorable.

3. Double the protection

The adoption of two-step verification can address a number of inherent security vulnerabilities associated with free email and webmail services. An advanced email client uses offline and online solutions to synchronise and store files, reducing security threats. This also ensures that confidential information is stored securely, together with the ability to apply message encryption.

4. Safer storage, safer data

Traditional email client solutions such as Microsoft Outlook store messages, attachments, calendar data and contacts in a single database file. This brings with it the risk of poor performance, or loss of critical information if the file gets corrupted. Again, an advanced email client application avoids this problem, as it processes and stores messages and documents as separate files within regular Windows folders. Another key benefit is that it is much easier for users to work with incoming and saved data.

5. Working the way you work

An advanced email client allows the user to work the way that suits them best. For example, you can choose between cloud applications and standard Windows office desktop tools. It is also possible to create multiple calendars and address books and sync them independently with different Google accounts. In addition, offline synchronisation enables users to continue working seamlessly with locally-stored files if a web connection is unavailable for any reason.

There is a common theme here. By adopting advanced email client technology as part of a fully integrated approach to email management, users can significantly improve productivity by dealing with incoming messages and retrieving stored information more easily.

Vladimir Spirin is managing director of Everdesk.

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