Small companies tend to pose bigger ones by implementing solutions that are just inadequate. Even small teams tend to keep individual inboxes for each employee, multiplying the number of e-mails in cross communication.

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Circulating e-mails in a team makes a terrible way to spend time and in fact most of information workers are just flooded with mass communication between desks. Any system dealing with team collaboration has not yet eliminated e-mails from our professional lives, even employing the best ones like the one offered by our company does not eliminate the concept of widespread use of e-mails, albeit it reduces use of e-mails.

In the past having individual e-mail addresses for every employee used to be a way of expressing the sense of belonging as well as having your own private space. Individual e-mail mailboxes used to provide a system of security, whereas lost passwords were readily reminded via private messages delivered to individual corporate mailboxes. We still use them, however we've managed to reduce the number of e-mails by using private mailboxes only where it is completely neccessary.

Most of our employees however use functional mailboxes instead, whereas there is a shared inbox for office, sales and support. Each functional mailbox is shared in a team, which promotes dealing with requests incoming via e-mail in a collaborative way preserving shared knowledge and shared responsibility for keeping the inbox organised by virtue of common standards in terms of mailbox quotas, time to response, retention policy.

Personally I keep my own company e-mail open and shared across the whole company. I still need my own private e-mail but my office address is read by anyone who can read and respond to e-mails on my behalf. There is no sense of maciej dot zagozda at company, as everyone can read and compose e-mail using my private mailbox, pretty much as I use my Twitter account to let others post on and respond to tweets on my behalf.

As much as I initially thought this might be silly or even risky approach, having a shared or open inbox promotes sense of shared goal, responsibility. It also helps me to keep up with trivial e-mails and seek help in keeping the mailbox clean of clutter, as the cost of maintaining it is divided by the number of people who use the mailbox and keep it organised at all times.

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