About two weeks into working at Shareaholic, I sent this gleeful Tweet-reflection:

There’s a lot to love about Shareaholic. For starters, the uniform is a lot better than what I wore at Briarwood…

…and then there’s the industry, the product, and the people of course. But there’s something else I love – our culture around email.

Email seems like a given, right? You generally get a TON of email: email forwards, newsletters and of course email chains, the best! There’s always that one guy that keeps “replying all” and continuing these extended conversations about… well… no one remembers, they just know he really needs to stop.

We just don’t do that crap at Shareaholic.

If someone needs to contact me, they IM me on HipChat.  If I’m not at my desk, I’ll get a ping on my phone and I can respond to them through the app. The history of conversations is completely searchable so we can go back to old discussions just like we do in email. Our HipChat Dev channel integrates with GitHub so we can keep track of what has been deployed. We can also send files. For example, here is a screenshot of me sending a picture of John Mayer in a Christmas sweater holding a cat to our Marketing Manager Ginny Soskey.

Instead of email chains for brainstorm sessions and debates, face-to-face meetings with a pre-determined end goal work best. These are friendlier (people can be misunderstood through email, after all) and more productive.

Speaking of productivity, there’s Trello for that. Conversations in there are restricted to comments on cards for a particular product feature or marketing project, and are therefore much more focused than email. It just prevents people from going off on tangents.

Our approach means we get extended periods of uninterrupted time to actually get stuff done. As a marketer, I’m still going to get email. But I can pay attention to the emails that actually move the business forward – ones from our users, journalists or potential product partners. It means my teammates can be heads down in code or heads down writing blog posts. We get time to read stuff other than email, such as articles that teach us new things or sometimes just stuff that makes us laugh. Most of all, this approach means that when we go on vacation we can really be out of the office.

I’ve wanted to write this post ever since I sent that Tweet, but I didn’t know if we could maintain this email culture as we grew. 10 months later and lots of new people on the team, our attitude regarding email drives the effort to maintain this approach. It turns out you can create the company and processes you want. You don’t have to settle for old systems. This comes right down to every detail like the beer in your fridge, whether or not you even have a beer fridge and whether or not you’re going to hit send on that silly email with the subject line that reads “2 quick questions”

Don’t email that! IM that.

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