According to recent surveys, business professionals spend about two hours per day organizing and managing their e-mail. Thatâ€™s an average of 520 hours per year spent managing e-mail.
â€œIneffective, improper and incorrect use of electronic e-mail on company computers exposes organizations to wasted time, bad press, and the possibility of legal action,” notes Al Borowski, a recognized expert in e-mail etiquette who runs a Pittsburgh-based communications training firm, Connect All the Dots.
Weâ€™ll give you five tips on e-mail in the workplace to help protect yourself and your business.
The majority of communication today is done by use of e-mail. In an instant, you can communicate an entire idea or story to someone in the office next to you, or in another country. The problem today with e-mail is if you send an incomplete message, a message to the wrong person or an inappropriate message. But what can you do to make sure you stay out of the e-mail hot seat?
1. Donâ€™t rely Upon your Spelling & Grammar Checker Alone
Spelling and grammar checking features in todayâ€™s e-mail clients should not be relied upon only. Many times, these features may correct the word or phrase and completely change the sentence’s meaning.
When sending e-mail to a coworker or client, keep your e-mail professional and concise. There is no need for outrageous fonts, pictures, embedded html and other types of graphics or audio.
â€œE-mail has become your electronic stationery and business card,” says Leah Ingram, a Certified Protocol Consultant based in New Hope, Pa. “If you aren’t presenting a professional image in your e-mail, then what does that say about the rest of your business dealings?”
2. Know what Constitutes as a Politically Incorrect E-mail
Some subject should be considered prohibited. If youâ€™ve used e-mail longer than a month in your entire life, chances are youâ€™ve received the infamous chain letter e-mail, e-mail from the foreign dignitary or e-mail about the guy and the lady joke. What you MUST keep in mind is if this e-mail you are about to send will be offensive to others. If you have to think about it more than 5 seconds, it probably could be considered offensive to someone.
3. E-mail at Work, Belongs to your Job
Contrary to popular belief, your e-mail at work is not your private information. Many companies have policies set in place explaining in full detail that all incoming and outgoing information is the companyâ€™s property.
In a survey taken in 2005 by the American Management Association, nearly two thirds (60%) of companies surveyed rely on some sort of surveillance software to monitor employee e-mail use.
If you are a business owner, you may want to purchase and install surveillance software on your computers. You are within your full rights if the employee is notified that the information being transmitted on your company computer is monitored. This can save your company from embarrassment and from legal concerns.
4. Secure Your E-mail
Using software features such as Information Rights Management (IRM) can prevent any e-mail recipient of your message from copying from, forwarding or printing the e-mail you sent to them. IRM can limit the distribution of sensitive information to unintended recipients.
5. Know When E-mail Just Wonâ€™t Do
Sometimes, itâ€™s best just to pick up the telephone and call the person you were going to send an e-mail to. Some information is to sensitive to send via e-mail and e-mail can also be very impersonal. If the person is in the same office, pay a little trip to them.
“Don’t use e-mail to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to cover up a mistake,” says Laura Stack, productivity expert based in Highlands Ranch, Colo., and author of “Leave the Office Earlier.”
Following these 5 tips will help you keep your e-mail professional and keep you out of trouble. Information that is transmitted on company computers can always be tracked if that information is private, it can lead to major issues and problems. Protect yourself â€“ donâ€™t use company e-mail for private use.