How We Work

How do you collaborate on email?

…when everyone at your company uses a different email app

Let’s just get this out of the way: most of the Lickability team uses (and loves!) Spark for email. For collaboration, especially, it’s great. But that collaboration only works if everyone is using the same app, which isn’t the case in our office. Some people use Apple’s default Mail app, some people use standard Gmail, and some people — you know who you are, Matt — have even given apps like Superhuman a try. (Personally, I’m using Polymail right now, and I love it. Don’t @ me.)

So what do you do when your team wants to collaborate on email, but everyone is using a different email app?

A screenshot of the macOS app Spark Mail showing email collaboration.

Email collaboration with Spark

Why collaborate?

Let’s say you have to send an important email to a client — before you slap your signature on it and hit the “send” button, you probably want to have at least one other pair of eyes on it. Maybe there are typos you missed, maybe a sentence or two could be worded better, or maybe you just need a quick “Looks good to me” before you feel okay sending it.

Clear and quality communication is important to us, which is why almost every email we send is done so collaboratively. Sometimes that means using an app like Spark to comment on and draft emails together, sometimes it means pasting an email draft into Slack and asking if it makes sense, and sometimes it just means saying out loud to each other, “I’m going to send this, is that okay?”

There are pros and cons to this, of course. Collaboration often results in sending cleaner, clearer, and more effective emails, and makes the email process more transparent. Team members feel more in the loop when they help write an email, rather than seeing it for the first time when they’re CC’d. That said, email collaboration can eat up unnecessary time — think about how many minutes are spent asking people to look over emails before you send them when it would be quicker to just type something up and send it yourself. And in our case, just figuring out the best way to collaborate can eat up even more unnecessary time.

At the end of the day, collaboration is essential — as long as you’re doing it right. So what’s the right way to do it?

Two screenshots of the sharing feature in the Polymail iOS app.

Sharing emails with Polymail

What we’ve tried

We’ve yet to find the perfect solution for email collaboration. Spark for Teams is great, but only works if everyone on your team is using Spark. Polymail has a similar feature, and also makes it easy to create web links to emails so you can collaborate outside of the app — but, again, this is only useful if your whole team uses Polymail.

In our Switching to Notion blog post from a few months ago, we briefly talked about our “Email Scratchpad”: a Notion page exclusively for drafting emails together. Since then, we’ve stopped using it — it’s just not fast or convenient enough to be worth it. Copying and pasting the body of an email into Slack and editing a quick reply is quick and easy enough, so that’s often what we default to these days. But it doesn’t feel like a perfect solution.

So we’re asking you: how do you collaborate on email with your team? Let us know on Twitter — we want to hear from you!

Jillian Meehan

Jillian Meehan

Jillian Meehan is an Operations Associate at Lickability. She loves good pizza and bad tweets.