Disadvantages of Using Email to Communicate in a Companyby Sarah Morse
Email, used effectively, can be a cheap and efficient method for communication within companies. However, many things can go wrong along the way, due to the nature of email. A comprehensive email policy can help define proper email usage, but even taking this step still leaves room for inefficiency and communication gaps.
Email, as a form of written communication, does not come with the all-important non-verbal cues responsible for much of our understanding. As a result, sarcasm, humor and strong emotion often do not come across well to the reader. Sometimes it works the opposite way, with the reader attributing emotion to something that was not written with that intention. Those unfamiliar with email may fall into writing in all caps or using excessive punctuation to highlight something, not realizing that those elements carry emotion. This can lead to miscommunication that can unnecessarily injure working relationships.
Email presents an opportunity for distraction at work. Employees can improperly use work email to send personal notes or jokes around the office. Even if the email stays pertinent to work, however, it can be a distraction. Say you're working on a project, for example, and have your email client open on your desktop -- if you read every email that comes in, responding to some -- a project that may have taken two hours now may take four. Although checking email once or twice a day may be more efficient and plenty sufficient, many feel that they might miss something important if they aren't checking their inbox constantly.
A benefit of email is that you can access it easily from just about anywhere with an Internet connection. For some companies this can be a serious drawback as well, threatening the work/life balance of employees. Those employees who always stay connected to work will burn out more quickly than those who take time for themselves. They may not spend quality time with their families or friends, and as a result, may feel more stressed and less fulfilled.
Those using email for communication within companies must take care to keep correspondence civil and clear. With email, it becomes easy to write off a quick, angry response and send it without much thought. That quick and hostile response is now on the record; you can't take it back. If employees or employers take it to the next level and say something offensive or inappropriate, that could be used as grounds for firing, or even as evidence against them in court. Email adds a layer of disengagement, giving people the courage to say things that they may not say in person or over the phone.
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