In this article we will teach you how to use Spark email as a team, so you can collaborate with your colleagues while working from home. Did you know that you can write email together with a colleague using Spark’s shared drafts? Did you know that you can comment on email and ask for help from your colleagues? Spark for Teams allows you to do all that and even more.
Working From Home Due to COVID-19
As the number of COVID-19 cases around the world continues to rise, the outbreak doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. A growing number of businesses and workplaces are taking up stern precautionary measures and advising their staff to work from home. Although the concept of working from home isn’t new, a lot of traditional big and small businesses are new to the idea of letting their employees work from home. People who have worked from an office all their careers will find that the experience of working from home can be very overwhelming. Don’t worry, we’re here to tell you how Spark can help you get productive and improve your team communication.
The Readdle team has had employees working from 8 different locations worldwide. As part of safety measures against COVID-19, our entire team now works remotely from home. We’ve already shared our tips for working from home in order to stay healthy and productive and also listed down our favorite apps and services to help you work from home more efficiently.
When working remotely, communication between your team members is crucial. Unlike an office environment, you obviously cannot swivel your chair around to talk to your colleagues or summon someone to your desk to get their feedback. If you’re working from home, you have to change the way you communicate with your team. As the team that brings you Spark, we’ve been eating our own dog food for a long time. We built Spark for Teams to make working with email a collaborative experience. As a team, you have to deal with all kinds of emails — clients, vendors, contractors, online services, critical notifications… the list goes on. When you use Spark with your team, you can privately share and comment on emails, delegate emails and assign tasks, draft an email together and take advantage of all our nifty team features.
Spark is available for iPhone, iPad, Macs as well as Android devices, with a Windows version coming soon. Spark is designed to offer the best email experience for teams and includes all the tools and features to ensure that emailing doesn’t feel like a chore. As you settle into the experience of working remotely and away from your colleagues, here’s how Spark can help you work from home and facilitate communication between your team.
- Privately Share and Comment on Emails with your Team
- Delegate Emails and Assign Tasks to your Team Members
- Organize a Conference Call with your Team
- Collaborate and Draft Emails Together with your Team
- Schedule Outgoing Emails with Send Later
Privately Share and Comment on Emails with your Team
Discussing work-related emails is just part of the daily routine. It could be a sales inquiry that needs a response, it could be an email from your manager asking about the status of a project, or it could be a support email from a customer seeking help about a particular issue. At your workplace, you’d probably huddle together, discuss, and then decide who was going to respond to the email and with what content. Well, you can still do all of that from the comfort of your home with Spark.
First, you can share an email with any of your team members. No, you don’t have to manually forward an email to someone on the team and clutter their inboxes in addition to taking up unnecessary storage on their account. When you share an email with Spark, it automatically appears in your teammate’s inbox. Sharing an email with Spark also helps to keep everyone in the loop for all future emails — people you’ve shared the email with can automatically see (if enabled by you) all new emails received in the same thread. This is great for when:
- A sales rep is talking to a prospective client about a new project and wants to keep their manager updated. The sales rep can enable the manager to automatically follow future emails in this email conversation.
- A support team member is helping out a customer with a technical issue and wants to loop in the developers.
- You’re part of a small team and want to share a positive conversation you’ve had with a customer with your business partners.
Once an email is shared with your colleagues, you can now discuss the email using private in-line comments at the bottom of the email. You can @mention your teammates to call their attention to something, ask for their help, or request a file from them. Why toggle between apps like Slack or Skype to discuss something when you can get work done right within Spark? Keep the discussion right where the context is.
That’s right, Spark can even let you send and receive private attachments between your team members, all without exchanging an email. All your comments and attachments are private and the original sender of the email outside your team does not have access to them.
Example: Request a File from your CoWorker and Respond to a Client’s Email
Consider a situation where you’re part of a small design agency, with Annie, Suzan, and Peter as your colleagues. An existing client has emailed you asking for a copy of his logo that your agency designed. Instead of pinging your team on Slack, Skype or iMessage to ask about the file, you can instantly share the client’s email with them and leave an in-line comment. Suzan replies and @mentions Annie to send you the file.
Annie gets a notification on her iPhone, uses Documents app to quickly download a copy from her Google Drive, and fires up Spark to attach it as a reply to your comment.
Now that you have the file from Annie, you can include it in the reply to the client.
As you’ve just seen, the entire communication was seamless and delightful. Instead of the constant need to switch between your email app, team chat app, and file browser, Spark for Teams is a great way to quickly discuss and respond to an email, especially when you’re working from home and remotely coordinating with your team. Spark for Teams is completely free, with an option to upgrade for additional features.
Delegate Emails and Assign Tasks
Whenever you get an email that has to be actioned upon, you may be used to creating a new To-do item in your team’s project management tool of choice and assigning it to someone on your team. The entire flow might look something like this:
Receive an email → Discuss it with your team → Decide action & assignee → Open project management tool → Create a task → Assign a task to a team member → [wait] → Nudge a team member → Follow-up with a team member about status → Team member completes action → Team member forgets to tell you about action completed → Follow-up with a team member about status → Team member notifies you about the status
Why go through all that hassle every time you get an email when you can do everything in Spark much more quickly and hassle-free?
Spark for Teams lets you delegate an email to anyone on your team. By delegating an email, you can assign that email task to your assistant, your colleagues, or your subordinates. Once delegated, they’ll get a notification in Spark. You can include a personal message to them and even set a deadline for the task to be completed. All of this can be tracked by both individuals in Spark and others on the team do not see the email.
By delegating emails in Spark, you are saving yourself and your teammates the hassle of constantly having to follow-up about the status of a task. Rather than drown in a sea of forwarded emails, it’s more convenient & efficient to keep track of delegations and tasks by looking at the dedicated “Delegated” and “Assigned to me” folders in Spark’s sidebar.
Example: Delegate an Email and Ask Teammate to Respond to a Client’s Email
Consider the same situation as in the example above. You have just received an email from a client, asking for a copy of the logo that your agency designed for him as part of his branding project last month. You’re on leave, so instead of replying to the client yourself, you want Suzan to handle it.
In Spark, delegating the email to Suzan is as simple as three clicks. Click on the Delegate option at the top right, select Suzan, optionally set a Due Date and click Delegate. That’s it.
Suzan now sees the email in her Spark and can respond to the email from her own account. Once she’s done with the task, she can use the ‘Mark as Done’ option to notify you that the delegated email has been completed.
Delegation of emails in Spark is a fantastic way to work with emails as a team remotely. Not only can you clean up the clutter in your inbox faster with Spark, but you can also get more work done by quickly assigning tasks and keeping up with their status instead of wasting time with follow-ups. Isn’t this a great way to get productive with Spark?
Organize a Conference Call with your Team
As your team is spread out and away from office, you may have to jump onto a video call to discuss something important. Spark ships with built-in integrations with three popular video conferencing services — Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts. These integrations make scheduling a team meeting a breeze. When you create a new Calendar event in Spark, you can choose to Add a Conference Call and select your favorite service.
When you create the event in Spark, it automatically creates the conference call and includes the URL to join the call in the email invite.
When working from home, you’ll now have to make frequent video calls and Spark makes it easy to create and join the calls.
Collaborate and Draft Emails Together
In your office, drafting any important emails such as proposals for clients, project reports, etc. is always a team effort. Teams usually spend hours discussing what to include in the email, what tone of voice to go with and what the perfect balance of formatting is like. Just because you have to work from home, the importance of these emails doesn’t die down, does it? So what do you do?
You can jump on a video call, but no one likes those and they’re always too time-consuming. You could take the help of team chat apps like Slack, but that limits the scope of discussion. You still have to collaborate to draft the email with tools like Google Docs, but there’s no place for discussions there. And you obviously don’t want to keep jumping between different apps like Slack and Google Docs, right?
The smart way to collaborate on an email together as a team is to do it in Spark using the “Shared Drafts” feature.
As you start composing a new email in Spark, you can invite your coworkers and teammates to collaborate and discuss the email. Spark features a real-time editor — much like Google Docs — that allows your teammates to help you while you compose the email.
Multiple people can simultaneously draft the email, make corrections, change its formatting, and even attach files. The invited members can send the email from their own email address, and you can even opt-in to enable them to send the email on your behalf using your email address. For example, Tom from sales can invite his colleague Joana to collaborate and draft an email together, and ask Joana to send out the email with her own email address. In some cases where necessary, Tom can enable Joana to send out the email using Tom's email address. Spark lets you be in control of every email.
Want to discuss something? Easy! Start chatting with your colleagues in a side panel, separate from the email content. This entire experience of collaborating on an email is designed to be beautiful and delightful. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can churn out insightful emails as a team.
Considering our example from earlier, it’s easy to see how the team can collaborate together to draft a reply to the client.
Schedule Outgoing Emails with Send Later
When working from home, your schedule often goes for a toss. It’s easy to lose track of time and find yourself inadvertently burning the midnight oil. Or you may be dealing with too many distractions during the day and hence prefer working late in the night. In many cases, it’s pretty common to find yourself crafting an important email in the middle of the night. Sending out the email at that time is not a good practice, and you’re probably going to wake up late the next morning. Spark’s ‘Send Later’ feature was built precisely for these cases. You can work whenever it's convenient for you, and Spark takes care that other people receive your email at an appropriate time. Plus, it's super helpful for people in different time zones.
There are several other features in Spark that collectively improve the experience of working as a fully remote team. Shared Email Templates in Spark allow the team to respond to frequent emails much faster. Follow-up Reminders enable you to get reminded about email follow-ups. Smart Search using natural language helps you locate any email with ease. There’s tons more to discover in Spark.
The internet has managed to bridge together vast geographical distances, so why let these distances come in the way of your work. As you work from home over the next few days, Spark’s got your back. Get started by downloading Spark for Free and working on emails together as a team. At your office or remotely at home, we’re confident that Spark will make you love email again.
As the world collectively braces to fight this pandemic over the next few weeks, we at Readdle are fully prepared and are committed to keeping Spark up and running as the best email experience for you. The team is working on lots of exciting features as part of our roadmap and we’re tremendously excited about it.