Gmail Shared Inbox: Your Sharing Options Explained

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Unsure of how to utilize a Gmail shared inbox for greater collaboration? Check out the pros and cons of different shared gmail options and how Outpost may be your best option.

Most businesses have at least one group email address like info@mycompany.com and sharing that Gmail inbox with multiple employees can help ensure that customers always get a timely response. While Google itself doesn’t offer an official way to create a shared inbox in Gmail, you have a few options to solve the problem of managing your team email.

Option 1: Share your password

The most basic solution to share your Gmail inbox is to just share your password. Multiple users can be logged in to the same account at the same time, but there are several downsides to this solution to consider.

You might get locked out

Google might block your access to Gmail because each inbox is designed to be used by only one person. If your employees are accessing your inbox from multiple locations, you may reach Gmail’s security thresholds and they might lock down your access to your inbox temporarily.

You’re taking a security risk

Sharing passwords is never secure. The more people have your account password, the more likely it is that your password might get into the wrong hands. 

Your team email is a black box

You’ll have no visibility into who’s doing what. With multiple people working in the same inbox, it’s easy for people to step on each other’s toes. There’s no way to assign email, trade notes, or ensure that customers get consistent responses.

Option 2: Use a Google Group as a collaborative inbox

You’ll need Google Groups for Business for this option. Go to https://groups.google.com/ and create a new group. During setup, make sure to check the “collaborative inbox” option.

Unfortunately, the user interface is completely different than Gmail’s and doesn’t offer nearly the same functionality to the inbox that you’re used to. There are several other downsides as well.

No visibility into who is doing what

There’s no transparency into who’s doing what. While you can assign emails with Google Groups, you can’t actually filter to see who’s assigned to what, who has lots of emails and who has none. You also can’t see who is actively replying to an email which can lead to duplicate work.

There’s no real way to collaborate

You can’t collaborate on a response or ask your teammates questions. If you need to ask a question about an email or get additional input from someone else, there’s no option to do that.

You can’t measure your team’s performance

There aren’t any analytics to see how your team is doing. As your team grows, you’ll want to know which team members are doing well and which struggle to get work done. Without any reporting, Google Groups lags behind alternative solutions.

Option 3: Delegate access to your inbox

This is the least popular and useful option, but it is available if you are working with only one other person and want to share a team inbox.

When you use Gmail’s delegation feature, you’re giving access to your Gmail account so someone else can read, send, and delete messages for you. This feature is commonly used by executives who want an assistant to answer emails for them. 

To set this up, log in to Gmail and click the gear icon in the top right and then click on “Settings.” Then click on “Account” and “Grant Access to your account. ”From here, you can add another account that will be able to access your team’s inbox. 

The downsides to this method are similar to the Google Groups solution: No transparency, duplicate work, no assignments or collaboration, and no analytics. Also, sent emails will include “sent by jane@yourcompany.com” in the header—not an ideal solution.
collaborative email

Outpost makes sharing your Gmail inbox easy

Because Gmail’s options for sharing an inbox are fairly basic and lack key features, we built Outpost. Our own team was struggling to answer emails to company email addresses like marketing@ and help@ so we built Outpost and are making it available to everyone.

Here’s how Outpost takes the chaos out of managing team email:

You know who’s doing what with assignments. You’ll easily see what each person’s queue looks like and be able to distribute work easily.

Everyone can see who’s working on what. With full transparency, no one will step on any toes. Instead, get a collision alert if someone else is actively working on a draft. 

Collaboration features get rid of confusing cc’s and forwards. If you want to discuss an email or ask for input, use Outpost’s private notes feature to have internal discussions about email responses.

Consistent, accurate, and fast responses are easy with template responses. Your team will save time by using saved templates and ensure customers always get the right response.

Analytics help you stay on top of your team’s performance. You’ll know who’s responding to emails quickly and how long customers are waiting for a response.

Sign up for a free trial or set up a no-pressure demo and eliminate the complications of managing your team email today.

Posted in Email, Outpost

Noah Parsons

Noah Parsons

Before joining Palo Alto Software, Noah Parsons was an early Internet marketing and product expert in the Silicon Valley. He joined Yahoo! in 1996 as one of its first 101 employees and become Producer of the Yahoo! Employment property as part of the Yahoo! Classifieds team before leaving to serve as Director of Production at Epinions.com. He is a graduate of Princeton University. Noah devotes most of his free time to his three young sons. In the winter you'll find him giving them lessons on the ski slopes, and in summer they're usually involved in a variety of outdoor pursuits. Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of Outpost and the online business plan app LivePlan, and content curator and creator of the Emergent Newsletter. You can follow Noah on Google+ or on Twitter.