If your small business only houses a couple of employees, you might be tempted to use a free email service for your company. Going with Gmail, Yahoo, or your Internet service provider's (ISP) email service might easy and free, but you get so much more with Office 365, a designated email for business.
When it comes to email for business, let's take a look at the variety of benefits that Microsoft's Office 365 provides instead of a personal email service.
A Custom Domain Name
With a personal email service, you're stuck with the domain name they provide, such as [email protected] When you use Office 365, you're able to customize your domain name to whatever you'd like. This allows you to promote your brand, and is much more professional than using a generic email domain.
An email address of [email protected] looks better on business cards and websites, and is more official than a standard address.
Powerful, Centralized Management
Office 365 has a powerful administration panel that allows you to control how your business uses email. With just a few clicks, you can set up new email addresses, reset passwords, and make changes to filtering. Using personal email, you can't do any of this so easily.
Through Yahoo or Verizon mail, you must manage every account separately. You'll have to set up recovery options for each account by hand, and there's no easy way to disable someone's account when they leave. This brings extra busy work that just amounts to wasted time.
Avoid Costly Security and Privacy Problems
Because personal accounts can't be managed by IT, some problems might occur. If an employee is suspected of wrongdoing, IT won't be able to search through their email like they would with Office 365. If the user won't give up their password, it might be irrecoverable.
— Office 365 (@Office365) November 9, 2016
Using Office 365, you set the privacy and security rules, so that you know exactly what's going on with your employees' accounts.
Less Risk of Non-Business Use and Fragmentation
Some employees have a problem with signing up for non-work services, such as shopping and dating sites, through their work email. This is even more likely to happen if they see their email account as their own, and know that IT isn't able to easily access it if needed.
The problem could be even worse if employees use their personal email addresses set up outside the company. If you need to search through their email to recover something or prove fraud, how will you do that among their personal emails? There could be legal concerns with doing so.
There could also be an issue if employees sign up for services or websites for your business, like website hosting or credit cards, through their own email addresses. Should they leave, all those billing notification emails will still go to their email address.
With Office 365, you won't have any of these problems. You're in charge of all email inboxes, and won't lose access to any mailboxes.
Shared Calendar and Contacts
Chances are, many people in your business frequently contact the same people and hold similar calendar events. Instead of keeping track of individual calendars on a personal service, Office 365 offers the much easier method of sharing calendars and contacts between users.
This offers several benefits. New hires in a department can quickly fill their calendar with their supervisor's events and meetings. When someone needs to check if a coworker is available, they can view that person's calendar right from Outlook. Sharing common information means your employees won't waste time manually importing events and contacts.
Distribution Groups and Shared Mailboxes
Many times, it's advantageous to have one mailbox that many people can access. Instead of setting up all kinds of alternate email addresses and keeping track of their login information, Office 365 offers two ways to share email among multiple people.
Distribution groups provide an email address you can give out to others, such as [email protected] Add employees that work on the sales team as members of this group, and they'll all get notified whenever someone emails it. This makes sure that teams won't miss any emails that apply to them, especially if one member is away from work.
Shared mailboxes are similar but work in a slightly different way. While a distribution group simply forwards incoming messages to multiple people, a shared inbox is its own entity that multiple employees can sign into. If you set up [email protected] as a shared inbox and added five support employees to it, any one of them can read incoming mail and reply from that address. This lets a team share responsibility for email without having to respond from their own address, providing consistency for customers.
When you purchase an Office 365 subscription, you aren't just getting email service. Office 365 also includes access to SharePoint and Skype for Business, along with the option to add the desktop Office apps.
SharePoint is a platform that allows you to create an internal company website. It's primarily used for collaboration, document management, and storage. Common SharePoint pages include new hire training, company directories, and contact information. You can control individual user access so that only the right people can see certain pages.
Skype for Business, formerly Lync, is an enterprise instant-messaging software. With apps for Windows, Mac, and mobile devices, Skype for Business lets employees communicate via text chat, voice calling, and video calling. Users can also organize meetings, share files, and toggle their Free/Busy status so you know if someone isn't available at the moment.
The least expensive Office 365 plan, Business Essentials, includes email service as well as the other services mentioned above. It costs $5/user/month with an annual commitment, but for $12/user/month you can upgrade to the Office 365 Business Premium plan. This includes all of the above, plus access for each user to download the latest desktop versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, and more.
If you need these desktop apps, subscribing through Office 365 is much cheaper than buying the latest version of Office outright. Further, Office 365 apps are automatically kept up-to-date, so you won't have to pay an additional charge when a new version releases.
Using Office 365 Avoids Problems
All the potential issues with using personal email arise from trying to fit a business use-case into a tool designed for personal use. With Office 365, you're able to centrally manage all accounts and access those you need at any time. Your IT is in control of security features, and you don't have to worry about people bringing their email with them when they leave.
Office 365 is one of several business solutions for email. Though it does have a cost, it's low considering all the benefits you get. Don't play around any more with unprofessional email addresses, security risks, and poor management of your email system. Contact us today, and let's talk about how you can use Office 365 to power up your email.