This app clears up the clutter of long email chains to make working with outside groups easier
Israel-based Workgroup went live on Wednesday with the launch of their latest productivity app aimed at helping users to communicate with colleagues outside of their organizations.
Co-founded in July 2015 by CEO Ami Ben David (formerly of Everything.me), Head of UX Tair Barkay, and CTO Shai Finkelstein, Workgroups could be the solution to the clutter of emails and confusion that are generated by multi-person email chains.
Still a young company, in February they received $1 million in seed funding from Moshe Hogeg’s Singulariteam and Tal Barnoach’s Disruptive.
Similar to the widely popular internal messaging service Slack, Workgroup provides users with an easy to use app for web, desktop, iOS, and Android that lets them organize their workflow out of email and onto the much more manageable platform.
Whereas email chains can run through a maximum average of ten threads before one or more frustrated members of the group, Workgroup uses a free flowing chat format where participants can post their messages, as well as share docs and large files.
Starting a new chat is pretty easy. Just click on the + New Workgroup button on the top left, and choose if you want a new Workgroup, 1:1 chat, or to import an existing email chain from Gmail. An Exchange feature is still in the works.
To invite new people, just enter their email address and they will receive the link to join. No need to create a new user or password. They use a quasi two step process where the new user is sent a four digit code to enter the first time. There is also an invite link that can be sent through chat or other channels on the right side of the window.
While useful for most people in the working world, the Freemium service is geared for audiences like freelancers, agencies, and business people who work as advisors like tax specialists, legal, and others that are heavily dependent on email for communication with multiple clients.
As mentioned, there will be premium features like archiving, easy scheduling (still in the works), switching from online to offline, search for older content, etc. These features will run for only a couple of dollars, likely in the $5 range. Early bird users that sign up in the next few weeks are getting all of the features now for the lifetime use of the app. The core services will remain free.
Speaking on the evolution of the app, Workgroup’s VP Marketing Omer Kalderon tells Geektime that, “Once we realized that we are already using more than one-on-one communications in our everyday work, using different platforms. After looking through our email conversations, most of the communications aren’t with our organic team, but instead involve people from outside organizations. Our target was to enable collaboration across company borders.”
He notes that they were concerned at first that they could face some resistance from older users, who up to this point have rejected internal messaging platforms. For those people, it seems that by the time they got used to email, that they would be loath to try out a new system.
Luckily, he says that they have had a very positive response so far from across the board. They have also included a weekly email that has all of the text from the chats to help put some of these folks at ease, knowing that they have a backup.
Why this app makes me very happy
After playing around with this app for a day or so, I found myself really enjoying it and wishing that I would have had it back in my freelance days. While apps like WhatsApp work exceedingly well for groups of friends or family, I see this as an ideal business app that brings the smooth workflow of Slack to a new purpose.
I particularly love the read receipts, a feature that lets the you know that the others have seen your message. So even if the recipient does not respond to my message, I don’t have to play the waiting game of wondering if they received or have seen my post.
There are many features here that are similar to Facebook’s Messenger, including the ability to call directly to other users, but do not expose my personal side to my business contacts.
I would suggest turning off the email notifications of new messages, especially if you are using it for a large number of different communications.
Since joining Geektime and starting the Slack life, I’ve found that messaging platforms work so much better for the way that I work than emails, which themselves just end up clogging my inbox.
Still testing it, I have already started setting up groups with some of the outside companies that I interact with on a regular basis.
With any luck, this app will be able to gain its own foothold in the workplace, step out from under Slack’s shadow, and get full recognition by becoming a verb. Give it six months until you end a meeting and hear someone say, “Hey, great meeting. I’ll Workgroup you with the details.”
Featured Image Credit: Work Group PR