Almost 8 years ago, Google launched Gmail delegation, that allows you to provide someone else with access to your inbox and emails. This is great for executives who use an executive assistant to manage their email and calendar for them.

This functionality may be very useful in various situations. However, there are some limitations that may be real deal-breakers for teams to delegate emails in a productive – and secure – manner.

Gmail delegation is a more convenient and secure solution than forwarding emails or giving another user your password to access your Gmail account. Among the chores that an assistant can and can’t do are:

What a delegate can do:

  • View your inbox;
  • Reply to emails on your behalf;
  • Manage your contacts;
  • Delete your emails.

What a delegate can’t do:

  • Change your password;
  • Change any of your Gmail settings.
  • Send and receive chats messages;

Here you can find more instructions on how to use it.

There are many more “can’t do’s” not listed above that people only realise when they get to start using Gmail delegation. Some of them can be real deal-breakers for teams to delegate emails in a productive and secure manner.

Can’t choose which emails to share

Gmail delegation allows users to share whole inboxes, which sometimes is very useful and convenient. You don’t need to worry, you know that all your messages will arrive to your assistant. However, it can be inconvenient in most situations, in which you don’t really want your assistant to have access to ALL of your emails.

Turns out that there is no functionality in Gmail delegation that allows you to select which emails you want to share. Let’s say you are working on multiple projects and one of them is about a particularly more sensitive subject. In this case, the Gmail delegation would not work very well to delegate emails.

Can’t share emails cross-domains

Unfortunately, Gmail delegation doesn’t allow users to share inboxes and emails cross-domains. As Google explains here, users can delegate emails only to other users within the same organization.

This means that if you have a domain @company.com but your assistant uses @gmail.com, the delegation cannot be done. Of course, there are some turnarounds for this case, like purchasing a G Suite account for your assistant, automatically forwarding emails to a @gmail.com domain, etc. But are they convenient? Not sure.

Can’t change sender alias

When you use Gmail delegation, the recipient of a delegated message will still see that the reply was sent by the assistant’s email address. The “from” field will contain the original email address, but the “sent by” field will still display the address of whoever typed the emails, next to a statement “sent on behalf of (your name)”.

This can be very inconvenient in cases that you delegated messages from your clients to your assistant, hoping that they will believe that you were handling their emails yourself. What actually happens is that they know exactly which emails you typed personally and which ones you have simply delegated.

The best alternative to Gmail delegation

Drag was launched having email delegation as one of the biggest use cases. Drag turns Gmail into Trello-like (kanban) boards, that you can share with your assistant or your team. You can use Drag to delegate emails in Gmail easily without any of the limitations brought by Gmail delegation.

You can choose which emails to share. Sharing emails in Drag is easy. You just need to create a custom Shared Board with your assistant and populate the board with the emails that you want to share.

You can share emails cross-domains. In Drag, it’s possible to share boards between @company.com domains and @gmail.com domains, there are no limitations. This means you are not forced to purchase a G Suite domain to each of your team members to be able to share / delegate emails.

You can change sender alias. If you don’t want the recipient of an email to know that you are not the person typing that reply, this is easy with Drag. Your assistant can select if he/she wants to send the email from his/her own email address or from the manager’s one.

This is how to use Drag to delegate emails to your assistant

1. Set up Drag board(s)

Your main inbox, by default, will turn into a Kanban board. You can create more boards and customize them. Tip: You may want to create a second board for tasks. You could add all Help Desk emails into there.

2. Manage your emails and tasks

Emails come and go, sometimes it’s hard to keep track. We help teams to complete their emails and tasks together and on their own, faster. Tip: Select email(s) and use the ‘D’ to move them between boards.

3. Do everything directly in Gmail

Select the pen icon on any email or task to see all the extra features we bring to Gmail. Internal team chat, due dates, tasks, calendar integrations… Tip: Here are the extra features to get started.

Conclusion

Email delegation in Gmail is very useful in some cases but can also be tricky if not done the right way, bringing more problems than solutions.

Gmail delegation is feature works well in some cases, but some limitations make other email delegation alternative better suited for manager and virtual assistants to work together. Drag is our recommended solution for a safer and productive email delegation workflow.

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