What is a Shared Mailbox

Email remains a major communication method in different workplaces, especially when considering incoming messages from customers. Team members and employees work collaboratively across departments, locations, and time zones, and they need a conducive and collaborative environment to do their jobs efficiently.

This is where shared mailboxes come in.

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 between 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 it. The account admin needs to grant team members access to the shared mailbox via their personal email accounts.

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 can stay on top of their incoming and outgoing communication.

Features of a Shared Mailbox

  • Users have to have their personal email accounts 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 the shared email address.
  • Members in the shared mailbox can use the shared calendars and contact lists.
  • 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 in 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.
  • 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 send emails from the shared address. For example, when Jane sends a message from sales@company.com the recipient will see the email as coming from sales@company.com.

On the other hand, with a Send on Behalf permission, users send emails on behalf of the shared inbox. So, if Jane has Send on Behalf permissions, her emails will appear to be coming from Jane on behalf of sales@company.com.

License Considerations

Many providers offer shared mailboxes for free. However, often, you need user accounts which may be paid.

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.

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