Disadvantages of Using Email to Communicate in a Company

By Laurie Swenson

Email correspondence can sometimes be more complicated than a phone call.
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Email is a quick, cost-effective way to communicate with business colleagues and contacts. You can get quick answers to questions, share documents, keep correspondence organized without taking up physical file space. But along with its benefits, email has some disadvantages for businesses.


Email can be quicker than a telephone conversation or an in-person conversation, but it does not have as much of a personal connection. Written text does not always convey what the writer intends; meanings can be misinterpreted, as the recipient of the message does not have the advantage of seeing facial expressions and body language. In a small business, sending email instead of walking over to a colleague's desk for a discussion can feel more like a big-business atmosphere where many co-workers don't know one another.


While email can simplify things within a company, it can also create complications. Explaining a complicated procedure or answering complex questions via email can be time-consuming. At times, the telephone or a personal visit can get the message across more effectively through back-and-forth communication and, in the case of a personal visit, actually demonstrating what you're trying to explain. In addition, there's the possibility of accidentally sending a message to the wrong person or people -- for example, by hitting "Reply All" instead of "Reply."

Information Overload

Email communication can become overwhelming. Not only can email take up a lot of office time, it can also take a big chunk out of personal time for people within a company, especially when they're available 24/7 on their mobile devices. Some companies are addressing the stress of information overload. In January 2012, Volkswagen chose to deactivate emails on its staff members' BlackBerrys during non-working hours so they would not be able to spend personal time reading and responding to business email.

Newer Forms of Communication

Email was the most effective way to communicate electronically in the 1990s, but times have changed. People have a number of communication options, some of which can deliver information faster and more effectively than an email. Timely communication can take place via text messaging on mobile devices or through instant messaging or video conferencing. Email still has plenty of uses, but it isn't the only way to go.

Spam and Viruses

Spam is the bane of emailers everywhere. Even with a good spam filter, employees' inboxes can fill up with electronic junk. Even worse -- email is a popular way to spread viruses and malware that can infect your company's computer systems