Technology is ever-evolving. When email arrived back in 1993, it was revolutionary and changed the way most businesses were run. Just like we evolved to email however, so must we eventually evolve away from it. Those days are edging ever closer, with email on the way out and social collaboration tools on the way in.
58 percent of workers print and hand-sign documents that have been emailed to them, with an IDC study reporting that workers lose 3.5 hours per week because they don’t use digital services. In this piece, we’ll examine the four pivotal reasons why social tools are replacing email, why this is impacting the legal sector, and how lawyers can regain those 3.5 hours every week.
1. Time saved
A survey conducted by Nitro and the PDF Association spoke with 1200 knowledge workers in 56 countries across 13 industries. 81 percent of those surveyed stated they’d spent time working on the wrong version of a file, shared an outdated draft, or lost things in their inbox. It’s reported that workers spend five hours per week looking for documents and 3.5 hours filing and organising them. Time is often of the essence in the legal sector. Accordingly, those working in this industry can’t afford to waste time searching through their inbox for a random file, or work on an outdated document.
Through a social cloud collaboration platform, lawyers can have all of their files and documents stored in one easily accessible location. If you need information from a previous case, you don’t have to go back through old inbox messages, or contact colleagues. You can find it quickly and efficiently on the social platform. Any edits or redrafts made to the file will be visible to everyone involved, and so you never have to worry about working on an outdated file, or risk missing someone else’s changes.
2. Increased collaboration
In a study by Queens University of Charlotte, 39 percent of surveyed employees stated that people in their organisation don’t collaborate enough. Collaboration can often be the key to success for many companies and projects, and this way of working should be encouraged by any organisation. As you might have guessed, internal collaboration can excel when colleagues use a social collaboration platform, with teams reportedly able to draft documents 33 percent faster with a document management tool that cuts out the need for emails and attachments.
Through an online collaboration platform, people within law firms can message and send files to any colleague, allowing them to edit and comment on the file. Anyone within the company, permission permitted, can view the pages and files being edited, viewing the changes as they happened. Furthermore, on email, only the people sending the files back and forth will be viewing the changes. On a social platform, numerous others can view and contribute their opinion and possible edits. Let’s say, for example, that you’re working on a case and someone else within the firm had worked on a very similar case in the past. If the files had been sent and edited over email, that person may never have seen this and would have been unable to offer their help. A social collaboration tool allows anyone to contribute their thoughts and can lead to a higher quality of output.
3. Enhanced security
In 2014, network security and security assessment tools ranked 12th when it came to law purchases. This year, it came in 6th. It would appear law firms are taking notice of the importance of cyber security, and understandably so. Few sectors require more security than the legal sector. Email has claimed to offer many things, but security has never been one of them. If someone is able to log in to your email account, they will have access to all your messages and any files or documents attached to them. Social collaboration platforms cut down on this risk substantially, and offer lawyers piece of mind when sharing files to colleagues, internally or externally.
Hackers targeted five out of six large companies using email attacks last year — an annual increase of 40 percent. This should come as no surprise, as along with the increase in cyber security, so is the upheaval of online threats. One feature of a collaboration platform is the ability to send password encrypted files. If someone wanted to send you a confidential file, they could make it encrypted, and the only way you could access it would be to have the log-in details for your collaboration platform, and a password for the file. Without the password, the file cannot be opened and becomes obsolete.
4. Decreased inefficiencies
The number one cause of wasted time during the workday is inefficient processes (44 percent), followed by an overload of paperwork (43 percent) and meetings (41 percent). One of the biggest benefits of a collaboration platform is the ability to increase a company’s productivity and decrease inefficiencies. Misplacing an old file, working on an outdated document, struggling to fine someone to assist you on a certain matter - these are all issues that can be resolved through a social enterprise platform. You shouldn’t be expected to collaborate on everything you work on, but it’s good to know that if you have an issue or query, you’re able to instantly get in contact with the rest of your organisation.
We all get caught in a standstill with our work occasionally, unable to move forward until we figure out a certain issue. Odds are, someone within your firm will have the answer, but you naturally don’t want to send an email to every single colleague enquiring. Instead, post this message on the social platform, where everyone will be able to view it, yet it won’t clog up people’s inboxes. Maybe someone will see the message, not know the solution but might know someone who does. They can tag their name, and start a discussion. Time is saved, conversations are started, and collaboration is increased.
A survey with headhunters and recruiters revealed that feeling connected makes 63 percent of people more likely to stay with their existing employer. No one’s saying that you have to collaborate and communicate every single piece of work you produce with the rest of your company, however it’s good to know that you and everyone else within the firm has this option. The ability to collaborate with ease can increase people’s comfortability with communicating with their colleagues, resulting in both a higher quality of work and a more open and collaborative camaraderie within the workplace.