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Out of office? The secret to switching off is to switch collaborative communication on.

In the fast-paced world of global trade, effective, uninterrupted communications are the lifeblood of streamlined operations. Hitting a hard pause on emails whilst on holiday - whether at an individual or a team level - is just not feasible. This means the traditional “Out of Office” reply - in most cases - simply doesn’t cut it. 

Below we share why the automated OOO can be a point of failure for efficient global trade communications and how the secret to switching off is to switch collaborative email on - through smart email solutions. 

Why the “Out of Office” is the Achilles heel of effective global trade communications

Unmanageable volume and speed of communications

In the global trade industry, professionals such as shipbrokers, charterers and freight forwarders receive thousands of emails daily. These emails are crucial for coordinating complex logistics, negotiating deals and managing always-on operations. The ability to manage and respond to these emails quickly and efficiently is vital

Delayed responses can result in costly missed opportunities, operational inefficiencies, and miscommunications. The risk of ineffective email management has a multitude of implications - none of which are positive. 

Negative impact on partner or customer relationships 

We’ve all been there. An urgent issue comes up and you reach out to your main point of contact. The joy from thinking they’ve immediately replied is replaced with frustration. The individual is out of the office for the next two weeks and has given you the email address of their colleague who has no context on the problem you’re facing. Or worse, the ambiguity of “I’ll respond to your email at the earliest opportunity” leaves you with nowhere to go. 

The “Out of Office” message can be a source of contention for your partners and customers. In the global trade industry - where timely communication is fundamentally critical - an automated response indicating someone is unavailable can lead to significant customer dissatisfaction. This can damage customer relationships and result in lost business opportunities, highlighting the limitations of relying solely on private inboxes and automated responses during periods of absence. 

Inbox overload when you return

Returning from a holiday to an overflowing inbox is a common source of stress and anxiety for global trade professionals. Communications to catch up on, urgent issues to attend to and action items to prioritise. It can be difficult to prioritise and address time-sensitive matters efficiently. 

The post-holiday email avalanche upon opening Outlook or Gmail can lead to overwhelm, mistakes made, overlooked messages and delayed responses - exacerbating operational challenges. You took a holiday to unwind and reset, only to be bombarded with the stress of inbox overload upon returning - negatively impacting productivity and morale. The “Out of Office” catch-up is cumbersome, even more so when it’s layered with playing catch-up on project statuses across teams.  

How smart email enables you to switch your Out of Office off and effective communication on

Enhanced team collaboration

Shared inboxes

Shared inboxes allow team members to access and manage emails collectively, ensuring that no critical communication is missed. This collaborative approach means that even if one team member is out of the office, others can step in to respond and keep projects moving forward seamlessly.

Activity panels and mentions

Activity panels and @mentions keep everyone in the loop. By tagging colleagues in emails and updates, teams can ensure that all relevant members are aware of the latest developments and any outstanding actions required, maintaining continuity even in someone’s absence. This also means you can achieve context in a glance without having to ask for 1-1 updates on project status.

Efficient email organisation

Smart filtering and tagging

Advanced filtering and tagging features prioritise important emails and keep the inbox organised. These tools automatically categorise emails based on predefined criteria, making it easy to find, organise and address urgent messages as a priority. 

Instead of spending precious time filing emails away into folders - which are hard enough to search back on in the first place - smart saved searches automatically file the most important emails under the correct customers, categorised as needed & stored away from your inbox - and most importantly available whenever you need it.

Automated workflows

Automated workflows handle routine tasks, reducing the manual effort required to manage emails. This not only saves time but also ensures consistency and accuracy in email management.

Coming back to your inbox after time away doesn’t need to be a headache. With smart inboxes, cleaning up your emails - and taking action on what’s important - is easier than ever. 

Bulk archiving can clear your inbox in seconds for messages you don’t need anymore. Imagine coming back from a two-week getaway and being able to almost instantly archive the emails that you don’t need to read - leaving time and room to triage those that actually matter. And of the emails that are left, they are automatically tagged and sorted so you can hone in on key projects first.

Instant access to information

Advanced search capabilities

Powerful search features enable quick access to vital information. Advanced filters and search parameters allow users to locate specific emails and data swiftly, reducing the time spent sifting through the inbox when you’re back from holiday.

Centralised information

Having a centralised repository of emails and documents means all relevant information is readily accessible. This consolidation simplifies the process of retrieving past communications and documents, improving efficiency and accuracy.

Improving work-life balance

Reduced stress and anxiety

Effective email management can lead to lower stress levels and better mental health. By ensuring that important emails are not overlooked and tasks are well-delegated, team members can enjoy their time off without the looming dread of an unmanageable inbox.

In a recent independent study, 69% of Sedna customers said they worry less about going on holiday because their colleagues can pick up their work seamlessly.

Enhanced productivity

Streamlined communication and efficient email management improve overall productivity. With less time spent sorting and responding to emails, teams can focus on more strategic tasks, enhancing job satisfaction and performance.

In the high-stakes, 24/7 world of global trade, relying solely on your “Out of Office” can severely hamper communication and operational efficiency - for both individuals and teams. By adopting smarter email solutions, you can ensure continuous collaboration and seamless communication - even during absences - thereby enhancing customer satisfaction, cross-team efficiency and productivity.

Open to ditching the traditional “Out of Office” approach? Modern maritime email collaboration tools are proving to be a quick win for digital transformation. Discover how these solutions can jumpstart your efficiency and boost your team's performance - even over the holiday season - in our insights on maritime collaboration and digital transformation.

Read more: Maritime collaboration: A digital transformation quick win.

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