Will Microsoft Teams replace email?

Oh come on… not another blog post like this…

No! This is about something else, namely our working methods, not about certain tools and services.

Whenever a new product is launched, the №1 question is: Will X now replace Y?

  • Will Sway replace PowerPoint?
  • Will Yammer replace SharePoint?
  • Will Planner replace Project?
  • Will Whiteboard replace OneNote?

and — we heard it all before:

Will Microsoft Teams replace Email?

The answer to this question is always no, because we are asking the wrong questions. The question is not whether Microsoft wants to replace one tool with another, but what requirements we have as users to be able to get things done.

I read many blog posts and I attended lots of sessions at conferences and even did sketchnotes on this topic. And the whole discussion seams to be around certain features of different tools and if features we already know from Outlook will someday appear in Teams as well.

But to me, the question isn’t if a tool X has reached the full functionality of a tool Y, which in effect would only be a renaming of X in Y. We need to answer the question of how tools have brought us through their architecture and through their features into a working behavior, that no longer meets our needs. From this we can deduce two things:

  • We need other tools & services
  • We need to evolve our working behavior

But we all hate (this amount of) Email!

Email has become the victim of its own success. Email is everywhere, everyone can write an email, but it is very hard to work with emails in a productive way. I do not want to point out that young people do not “like” emails. It is rather that we all use Emails abusive use and that bad habits are widespread:

  • It is very difficult to keep all team members and stakeholders on track. Due to non- continuous use of reply/reply to All/forward/ cc/bcc, information comes either double and triple or not at all
  • We misuse email as a document management tool (send copies of current version, drop file into Outlook folder, move file to Outlook archive) and thus ensures version chaos and bad knowledge flow
  • Furthermore, many of us use email also a task management tool, here it is very difficult to get information in the right context
  • Email is not really suitable for one-to-many communication. Sending a thank-you email after a sucessful internal event to every employee is unnecessary ballast
  • Emails are often sent in anticipation of receiving an immediate response (“Have you already received my email?”) This constantly interrupts us in our focus time, so we are always fighting distraction.

Do yourself and your colleagues a favor

  1. Stop thinking about email as a tool for synchronous communication. If you want to stay productive and tame your inbox, turn notifications off and read this instruction how to manage your Emails like a Rockstar: http://bit.ly/RockstarMail
  2. Stop sending copies of documents by email. Start sharing links and store your files in SharePoint, Teams or OneDrive.
  3. If you want to inform more than one colleague, consider to share your information in the Teams chat (if it’s somethings to discuss with colleagues you usually work with) or in yammer (if you don’t know who is the best person to answer or if they are not in your team)

We won’t hate our inboxes anymore, if we only got 10 emails a day. If you follow these 3 tips above, you free your inbox from all internal “please see attached details”-mails, all “can you please send me the latest/current/final version of XYZ” and every group communication.

Ok, but isn’t this the replacement of Email by Microsoft Teams?

No, it’s giving back Email its power.

Email really excels for internal 1:1 communication, for external communication when we don’t have a shared ecosystem with our partners and customers and as well for meeting requests and notifications.

What do you think? Will Teams replace Email? Or is a Hub like Teams a good chance to review our way to work and get rid of odd behavior?


Luise is an independent Microsoft 365 Consultant, Microsoft MVP for Office, Apps & Services, Sketchnotes Artist and Power Platform Advocate based in Germany. Do you need help with your project, want to exchange views or just connect? Feel free to follow me in twitter, LinkedIn or get in touch via contact form.

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