Email remains a major communication method in different workplaces, especially when considering incoming messages from customers or stakeholders. Team members and employees work collaboratively across departments, locations, and time zones, and they need a conducive and collaborative environment to function at optimal levels.
This is where shared mailboxes come in.
Shared mailboxes enable collaboration, communication, transparency, and efficiency among team members regardless of their location or department. Before using shared mailboxes, businesses used email-enabled distribution lists, but the downside was that none of the group members were aware of others’ responses.
What is a Shared Mailbox?
A shared mailbox is a type of inbox that enables different people to send, manage, and receive emails using the same email address. Team members can use this mailbox to share contacts and calendars. Unlike a regular email account, several people can manage a shared mailbox, but there is only one account admin.
Companies with many customer inquiries or incoming emails use shared mailboxes to share the load with different employees. Team members can collaborate and manage incoming emails from their respective inboxes. Plus, all mailbox responses will have the shared mailbox address rather than the individual email address.
Every member of the shared mailbox has a typical contact list and calendar to foster collaboration. Since there is no username and password attached to the shared mailbox, users cannot directly log into them. The account admin needs to grant team members access to the shared mailbox using their email profiles.
Why Use a Shared Mailbox?
Businesses use shared mailboxes when they want a complete team to shoulder the responsibility of inbound mails. Different departments in an organization have shared mailboxes to ensure that communication is centralized. Additionally, team leaders can delegate mail management to other members while staying in the loop at all times.
Unlike email lists, where there are several mail copies, a shared mailbox enables users to store only one mail copy. With multiple users managing and replying to emails, companies would stay on top of their incoming and outgoing communication.
Features of a Shared Mailbox
- Users have to have their mailbox to be able to access a shared mailbox.
- Members of a shared mailbox have complete access to different folders like the Inbox, Trash, Sent, and others.
- Shared mailboxes are not available on mobile devices.
- All emails sent from the shared mailbox has their email address.
- Members in the shared mailbox can use the shared calendars and contact lists with ease.
- Users can create subfolders for easy organization.
Benefits of a Shared Mailbox
- Teams can use shared mailboxes to collaborate with ease, and it reduces duplicate and missed email messages.
- Shared mailboxes provide team members with accountability and transparency.
- Multiple team members can reply to different emails in real-time.
- Shared mailboxes reduce the inflow of clutter into personal mailboxes.
- Shared mailboxes provide businesses with a single point of contact for people outside their company.
- Businesses can improve their productivity and responsiveness with shared mailboxes.
- Users can use shared mailboxes to monitor conversations and split workloads with ease.
- Shared mailboxes are secure, flexible, and easy to use.
Downsides of a Shared Mailbox
- There are limitations to tracking and analyzing team performance.
- Duplicated responses occur frequently.
- Emails can get lost
- Shared mailboxes can confuse team members on who will reply to specific emails.
Things to Consider Before creating a Shared Mailbox
Shared mailbox permissions
There are three main permissions available in shared mailboxes:
- Full Access
- Send As
- Send on Behalf.
The Full Access permission enables members to create calendar items, complete tasks, and manage email messages. However, a member with Full Access permission can not send emails from the shared mailbox unless they have the Send As and Send on Behalf permission.
With the Send As permission, users can use the shared mailbox address when sending mails.
On the other hand, the Send on Behalf permission enables users to send emails on behalf of the shared mailbox.
Users do not require a license to use a shared mailbox, But if the data exceeds 50Gb, they need to assign a license to the mailbox to enable them to store more data.
No Email encryption
A shared mailbox is encrypted against other mailboxes because it does not have a username or password. If members send or receive emails encrypted with their mailbox keys, other members may or may not be able to read the email depending on the public key it was encrypted with.
How to Create a Shared Mailbox
In Gmail, businesses can use a Google Group as a shared mailbox. Users can create a group with “address support @domain.com.” After making the group, they can add support staff as group members and enable people outside the organization to send messages to the shared mailbox.
For Microsoft 365, users with Exchange admin or global admin roles can create shared mailboxes. After logging into the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, users need to click on the “Add a shared mailbox” button to create a shared mailbox. Additionally, the administrator can grant team members access to the shared mailbox with ease.