Introducing Inbox, a New App from Google

“We get more email now than ever, important information is buried inside messages, and our most important tasks can slip through the cracks” That’s the thinking that spawned Google’s latest app simply called, Inbox. It’s a common issue, from individuals to large companies, and at Tribe, we deal with email overload in our client work regularly.

Google Inbox aims to eliminate the overload by putting what really matters on the forefront and organizing the noise in a way that doesn’t involve you scrolling through page after page of SPAM. Here are the key features of Inbox and how they could help you out.

+ Bundles

Inbox now automatically (or as they say, “automagically”, but we’ll just pretend they didn’t) groups together similar messages into categories like Promos, Travel and Purchases. You can even create your own. Now your flight info, rental car confirmation and hotel booking info can all be easily retrieved from one place.

+ Highlights

This seems like something that should have come about a while ago, but that’s often how you feel about fantastic tech. This feature simply lets you preview the key information in the message without actually opening it. Too cool.

+ Reminders

With Inbox, you can easily set reminders that align with the information in your inbox. And because this is a Google app, you can set your reminders with help from other Google tools for trip times, business hours, and they easily sync with your calendar.

+ Snooze 

Now here is a feature from which I could personally benefit. Too many times have I received an email notification on my phone at a time when I can’t reply. I close the message to get back to what I’m doing, and then don’t remember to respond until much (much) later, so I have to begin that email with an apology. This feature allows you to “snooze” email notifications, so you can schedule another notification when you know you’ll be free to respond.

If the next step for Inbox is an enterprise edition, we might be in for a revolution. And needless to say, we are ready. Email is so engrained in the corporate atmosphere, it’s clear that we aren’t ready for a replacement. We need improvement and evolution. It’s exciting to see Google taking strides with a communication channel that so many are dismissing as dinosaur technology., and this proves that it is anything but. I can’t wait to see how this app takes email into the future.

Mobile vs Desktop Communication: What Do Your Employees Need More and Which is Most Effective?

When it comes to non-desk workers, mobile is generally the best way to reach those employees on the frontline, the manufacturing line or employees in the field. Although, mobile can often seem like a scary thought to some companies so desktop could be the key. The truth is it just depends on your organization. It could be that the answer is both.

For example, if a hospital was trying to communicate with its nurses, the intranet might be the way to go.  (Although nurses aren’t sitting in front of computers all day, they generally do have access to a desktop while they’re at work.)

On the other hand, say an organization has delivery drivers that never encounter a computer during the day but they do have smartphones or at least a cell phone.  Companies like The Home Depot have created opt-in texting programs to give those employees wanting to stay in the loop an opportunity to do so.

In Tribe’s recent work with a large retail client, we found that roughly 95% of their store employees owned smartphones. In addition to that, roughly 70% of people in the US own a smart phone. So we decided to jump on that bandwagon and made suggestions such as linking their intranet to employees’ mobile devices.

Don’t count desktop out just yet, though. Desktop is also usually the most viable form of communication for many organizations. Mobile communications can be costly, so simply extending who has access to existing computers can cut cost in a big way. Desktop communications give you an opportunity to work with what you’ve got.

As stated above, the answer could be that you need a mix of both of these outlets to optimize your engagement. Some employees in certain departments often need to be reached differently than those in other departments. So it could be you implement desktop communications for your workers on the floor and opt-in mobile communications for your remote employees.

At Tribe we know each organization is different. Do you need help finding out how to effectively engage your employees? If so, we’d love to help!

The Power of Respect to Boost Employee Productivity

Does productivity increase when employees feel respected? An unintentional finding in the classic Hawthorne experiments points to yes. In the late 1920s/early 1930s, engineers at Western Electric tested their theory that better lighting would improve productivity of factory workers. To do so, they walled off part of the factory floor and kept working conditions the same there, except for stronger illumination.

Or so they thought. In his 1964 business classic “Managerial Breakthrough,” J.M. Juran describes the differences in the regular factory floor and the experimental space: “In the big room, the employees were forbidden to talk to each other — conversation was regarded as a drag on productivity; in the ‘laboratory’ they could talk to their heart’s content, and did. In the big room, they were subjected to a long catalogue of petty disciplines; not so in the ‘laboratory.’ In the big room, they were nobody. . . but in the ‘laboratory’ these nameless operators suddenly acquired status; engineers and managers addressed them by name, asked them how Jimmy’s cold was getting on, explained the project, and otherwise treated them as members of the team. The engineers never dreamed that these ‘little’ things might have more effect on productivity than something as important (to an engineer) as lighting.”

In fact, productivity in the ‘laboratory’ far outstripped that of the control group on the regular factory floor. When the lighting was reduced to its previous level, those productivity numbers remained impressively high.

The behavioral scientists involved noted that a major difference between the control subjects and the factory workers in the experimental space was a sense of respect. The sorts of liberties and trust that engineers took for granted represented a major step up for the work experience of those working on the shop floor.

Perhaps the moral of the story is that when you treat employees like adults, they act like adults. That sense of respect creates engaged and productive employees.