Generation Gmail: 10 tips for keeping corporate email users happy

The gist of the story so far is as follows: Our research has identified a new type of user within the corporate network; a user who is happy to use his or her personal accounts outside of the organization to work around restrictive or productivity-sucking policies. We call this user a Generation Gmail user, as they are likely to be under 25, and jump out to Gmail in order to get their work done when their business email account doesn't deliver the goods.

At Mimecast we discovered a new type of corporate user, the Generation Gmail user; and they are really making a splash. We've already written a blog post on who they are and why they exist. The research backing up our discovery can be found here (registration required).

We seem to have caused a stir as many of you have emailed us to say this is exactly what has been happening within your own organizations; some have told me that they are the prime example of a Generation Gmail user and have gone into great detail when telling me why. Thank you - it's always great to hear your real life stories.

So we put our brains together, including the huge brain of our top email scientist Dr Nathaniel Borenstein, and came up with ten handy hints to help you keep your users happy, contented and, importantly, working inside your network and the systems you have worked so hard to provide.

Mimecast's Ten Top Tips

1.       Look for clever ways to keep your users ‘on the reservation’ and inside the corporate email environment. The steps below will help, but so will motivating them in the right direction. By clever ways, I mean think of things like the ‘Deals of the Day’ websites that deliver enticements directly to users'  inboxes. Doing this internally isn’t that much of a stretch and would have many other knock-on benefits.

2.       Keep your business email up and running. One way or another this is getting cheaper and easier to do. Tolerating downtime is very old fashioned these days, as the technology exists to keep your email up and running at 100%.  So why not use it?

3.       Educate your users away from the ‘controlling and enforcing’ position. Let them know that the odd personal email isn’t a problem. Of course explain what you mean by "appropriate use" and what’s generally bad, but also explain the benefits of the business system.

4.       In the same conversation, don’t just tell your employees not to use external or personal email systems for work. Explain to them the real-world risk, use a few demonstrations or case studies and make this a story that resonates, rather than another plain old policy update.

5.       Make mobile access work. Decide on the mobile platforms which will work and then make them work! If you support one type of mobile device, consider what users of the other device will do. If this means providing your users will a common mobile platform, consider this a goodwill gesture to them.

6.       Make mobile access really work. Do your users really need a cumbersome VPN solution with pin and token code? Is it realistic to expect them to fire up their laptops and login to the network just to send an email? See number 5.

7.       Make your corporate email system better than the personal solutions your users are going to. Give them the tools they need, the technology is out there you just need to deploy it.

8.       Importantly don’t limit email storage. See number 7. This is something the IT department has had to do in the past because of the limitations built into core email platforms, but those problems are slowly disappearing and the cloud is a great way to offer a bottomless mailbox integrated with your corporate inbox. This includes finding a solution that allows you to eliminate PSTs too.

9.       Update your systems. Keep the platforms fresh, review on an annual basis, and make a change. Too many businesses get stuck in the past. Technology moves at such a pace, if you don’t keep up you’re often left, at best, incubating your own workaround-workers, and at worst being uncompetitive in your market.

10.   Above all; listen to your users. They vote with their mouse and keyboard. If they argue that their personal system outperforms the work email find out why. Fix the problem rather than fob them off. See number 9. From here it is really going to be down to you. I'll bet that you know you already have a few workaround Generation Gmail workers? That's nothing to panic about, but does give you a focus for how you develop your email systems in the future.

Good luck!