Collaborative Inbox vs Shared Inbox: What’s The Difference And What’s Best For Your Organization?

For the last twenty years, email has been one of the primary modes we use to communicate around the world. It predates text messaging, let alone instant messaging. And yet, despite its popularity, email hasn’t had the same updates that its modern counterparts have. 

That’s why a shared and collaborative inbox can dramatically change the way you use your email. For many of our users, it can feel like the first time email seems “new” since the first time they used it. 

In this post, we’re going to go through the differences between shared and collaborative inboxes so that you know which choice is right for you. Let’s start by defining each kind of modern email solution. 

What is a shared inbox?

A shared inbox is exactly what it sounds like — an email inbox you share with others. 

Normally, an inbox is intended to be viewed by a single person. The only way to share the emails you’re receiving is to forward them to others. It’s tedious and clutters up your inbox. 

Even if you share the password to your inbox with someone else, security measures can make it difficult (or impossible) to share your email account. 

That’s where a shared inbox (like the ones Microsoft offers) comes in handy. It’s an email address and inbox combo that you’re supposed to share with others. The members of your team can all access and interact with the emails that arrive in this inbox without causing any security issues or other inconveniences. 

What is a collaborative inbox?

A collaborative inbox is similar to a shared inbox. The primary difference, however, is its features. 

Unlike a shared inbox, collaborative inboxes are packed with features that make it easier to collaborate with your team. You’ll get options, such as assigning emails to team members, moderating your inbox, and tracking the activity of your inbox for auditing. 

It’s almost like using a completely separate means of communication. That said, collaborative inboxes aren’t complicated in the slightest. Anyone who can use a standard or shared inbox will have no trouble managing a collaborative inbox. 

A shared vs collaborative inbox: The key differences

Now that you have an idea of how shared and collaborative inboxes work, you’ll see that they’re relatively similar. This can make it hard to spot the difference the first time you interact with them. 

A shared inbox is just for sharing emails

The first difference between these two types of inboxes is their objective. Shared inboxes are, as the name implies, just for sharing. That’s it! They offer a straightforward solution for teams that want to be able to view the same incoming emails – and not much else. 

A collaborative inbox is for collaborating on email management and communication

With a collaborative inbox, on the other hand, you’ll find more features and capabilities centered around collaboration. 

Rather than treating an email inbox as nothing more than an email receptacle, your inbox will instead act more like a SaaS app. You’ll be able to work with your team in this space over the internet, making changes, and assigning/completing work on the go. 

How to choose the right tool for your organization

Now, you’re probably wondering which is right for your team. Not to worry! Here’s a quick breakdown of the factors you should consider when deciding between these email solutions, plus a third option. 

Who is and isn’t responding to incoming emails?

First, you’ll want to ask yourself, “Who is responding to our incoming emails?” 

If the answer is “no one” then a shared inbox should be just fine. After all, your team just needs to be able to see the incoming emails. This is helpful if your inbox is treated more like a newsfeed than two-way communication. 

A shared inbox is also more ideal if you only have one member of your team responding to emails. This is useful for when you have one customer support team member but still want easy access to that team member’s inbox without interfering with it. 

On the other hand, if you want multiple team members to respond to your incoming emails, then a collaborative inbox is the way to go. It’s far easier to organize, plan, and tackle a multitude of team members and incoming emails. 

Is your inbox information- or task-oriented?

Second, is your inbox focused on collecting information or acting as a hub for tasks?

In other words, is this inbox going to catch incoming emails or be the gateway through which you interact with customers, management, and more?

With a collaborative inbox, you’ll get features like assigning emails to team members, bulk operations, member importing, and daily email digests. All of these features can help you stay more productive and organized when working with your email. 

Conversely, a shared inbox can work better if you’re just worried about collecting and reading emails. Its streamlined nature makes it a solid option for emails that you use for catching notifications, news, and customer feedback.

What platform offers true sharing and collaboration?

If these email solutions are not delivering what you need, then you may wish to consider a group email platform. But, what is that?

A group email platform is a convenient way for groups of people – even large groups – to communicate and share emails via email. Anyone within the group can send an email to a common address, like, and everyone will get it. It’s as simple as that. 

From there, everyone can pitch in ideas, organize plans, talk about events, schmooze, and get inspired in this space. It creates a robust environment to build an organization together where all voices are heard. 

Gaggle Mail is the group email platform you’ve been waiting for

If you’re looking for a simple, feature-packed group email solution, look no further than Gaggle Mail. It comes with all of the features you need to be productive without bogging your work down in complexity. Reach out to our team and see if it’s right for you.