Sharing: We Do It. A Lot.
When it comes to sharing and other activities we do every day, we are creatures of habit. There’s a point (sometimes in the distant past) where we evaluate and optimize the steps needed to accomplish a task like sharing. Then we repeat those steps—over and over—until they become second nature. Maybe it’s not the best way to work, but it’s our way and we like it just fine. (Ask my boss about Public Folders some time.)
But now it’s the 21st century and we’re all about collaboration and sharing. There are great collaboration suites out there that (we’re told) will revolutionize the way we work. Even some of our favorite applications have gotten into the collaboration act.
And for many organizations this explosion of new features and collaboration suites has had—wait for it—zero impact. Why? Because the tools are new. And maybe we don’t really understand them. And (of course) now is not a good time to learn how to do an old thing in a new way.
Until this week, I felt the same way. Then, Microsoft showed me a preview of their new Outlook on the web. It was pretty slick (less is more!) With that experience as inspiration, I went about my day, writing a report for a customer. And then, as I was getting ready to send the document to my customer, something surprising happened.
I noticed a “share” button at the top of the application window. Being curious, I clicked on it. Holy crap! Coolness ensued. So, I thought I’d share my experience as an object lesson in learning how to share in some new ways.
Streamlining the Sharing Experience
I do a lot of writing (duh!) Often, after I write a document, I need to share it with a customer. I may want to share it in its “native” format (Word or Project, for instance). Or I might want to convert the document to a PDF and then share.
My workflow for this has typically looked like this.
- Save the document in its native format.
- Save As the document as a PDF (though I’ve recently discovered the Export to PDF button.)
- Go to the appropriate folder and open the PDF file, then close it. (I do this step so it shows in my Recent Items list when I attach the file to an Outlook message.)
- Switch over to Outlook. Compose an email. Click on the icon to attach the file. If it attaches a link to the file, go in and change things so it attaches a copy of the file instead. Hit Send.
- If I haven’t done so already, move the files to whatever folder I want them to stay in.
Here’s the new experience that has me all geeked out.
- Don’t bother to save the document. That’s because I saved it the first time to my OneDrive account. So now, OneDrive automatically saves it back to there for me. 0 clicks are the best clicks.
- Click on the unobtrusive Share button. A pop-up screen appears.
- Notice what options I have. I can share a link to the file (handy if I’m sharing internally). Or I can share a copy of the file (my default for sharing with customers and others outside CGNET). And if I’m not already running Outlook, I can have the Share butler launch it for me.
- But wait! There’s more. I can share the document in its native format (Word, in this case). Or I can share a PDF version that Word will create for me. Yay! Several more clicks that I don’t have to do.
- I make my choice of file format and voila! I have an Outlook email draft ready, with the file already attached. I just address the email, add a subject line, and put in a covering note (and even some of that is getting automated, with text suggestions.) And with that, I’m done.
Give Your Brain a Break
I like this sharing experience. It requires fewer clicks than my old method; always a good thing. What I like even more is that the entire experience happens in one context. I don’t have to switch between Word, File Explorer, Adobe or Edge, and Outlook. I just click Share and respond to a few prompts. Then I send the email. Sounds pretty easy to me!
I have a half-baked theory (so far, devoid of any supporting evidence but hey) that our brains don’t like it when we are required to switch contexts to get a task accomplished. OK, I’m in Word, where’s the menu, what do I have to look for, etc. Now I’m navigating File Explorer. Now I’m switching to Outlook. Now I’m back in File Explorer trying to remember where I put the dang document. It’s mentally taxing.
With this sharing experience, it feels more natural. You move through the steps and the task is done. I don’t feel like I’m stopping and starting. And because of that, I feel like I’m less likely to get distracted, start something new, and then remember that I haven’t finished sharing the document I was working on. Start the task. Complete the task. Enjoy the dopamine rush. Move on with your day.
Teams Teaser: It’s All About the Context
I was originally going to also cover my recent experience using Teams to manage a new project with a customer. But I’ll save that for next week’s post.
I hope I’ve inspired you to think about clicking on that Share button. Maybe you’ll like the flow of that sharing experience. Let me know if your brain thanks you.