Beyond email: communicating in a high-tech world

Depending on whom you ask, members of Generation Z – those born around 2000 or later – either love or loathe email.

Some studies show greater-than-expected use; others suggest email is regarded as “old-hat”.

Both approaches are probably correct. While Generation Z uses email a lot compared with other digital communication methods, it is declining.

Most firms wouldn’t see that as an issue, as Generation Z is not the targeted client. But it will soon be the targeted employee.

A generation who grew up using a dozen different messaging systems is likely to find using phones, email and DX very restrictive, old-fashioned and inefficient.

We also operate in a multi-cultural world. Your clients will often be from cultures which, for the most part, do not use email for communication.

China is the best example, where people use WeChat for most communication and don’t often bother to check email.

A practitioner should never expect an email will be opened, yet this is often the expectation.

Using the communication method your client prefers will not only benefit the client but also help your firm ensure its advice is received and questions are answered.

There are also issues with internal communication. Matters involving multiple parties could use a range of solutions to achieve better communication, file handling and workflow. These solutions are often already available to firms, just not used.

Email itself wasn’t created for the purpose for which it is being used. It is strongly preferable to facsimiles, which are perhaps the most imperfect method of communication, but email was created for sending short, simple messages.

For example, there is no default encryption on emails. New technologies provide faster, and more convenient and secure methods of communication.

But the use of such technologies bears risks alongside those rewards.

While firms should be aware of how to avoid the risks, they should consider integrating at least some of these technologies into their practice.

The first step is to understand more about the opportunities they provide, and how they can be safely implemented to the benefit of your firm and your clients. – Arran Hunt, Stace Hammond

To assist with such challenges, on 6 August ADLS is holding a seminar entitled ‘Communicating in a high-tech world’ for all legal professionals, practice and office managers, and personal assistants and secretarial staff.

To register or for more information, visit www.adls.org.nz/cpd

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