I have written, here in my blog and in my book (referenced below), about using personal email at work. The article below has some nice points. It should also be noted that work email is the company's property and can be inspected at will. In short there is no 4th amendment right of privacy.
It is always in your best interest not to make a habit of it!
April 1, 2015 // 11:00 AM
The Do’s and Don’ts for Sending Email at Work
Written by Tom Burgess from hubspot.com
**Sets alarm for 6am, checks email, goes to bed**
**Wakes up to sound of alarm, turns off alarm, checks email**
Does this routine sound familiar? I can’t be the only one that is nearly attached at the hip to my phone, checking email constantly. Email has been arguably the #1 form of communication for business since the early 2000’s. With email being a key piece in the way we communicate, there are certain “do’s” and “don’ts” we should be following while emailing at work:
The DO's of Email at Work...
No matter whether it’s an internal email to your best friend co-worker or a message full of important information to a client, you should always get in the habit of addressing them by first name, or “Mr./Mrs. So-and-so.” A good rule of thumb, address this person as you would address them in conversation.
By this I mean know whom your email recipient is. Study past emails this person has sent, recognize their tone or writing style and adapt to that. If they are short and straight to the point, it may mean they are extremely busy, so try and be concise in your response emails.
DO: Always Check Before Clicking Send
This could be the ultimate must “do” when emailing. One of the worst feelings is clicking send and realizing you missed something, didn’t attach a document, or misspelled something (we’re all guilty of this). Rule of thumb is not to include the email address in the send line until you’ve proofed.
DO: Keep Messages Short
There’s no point in dragging an email with fluff, get straight to the point. Reading a novel of an email is not time effective for the both sender and receiver. And to that, I will keep this point short… as to prove a point!
DO: Keep Your Inbox Clean
I know you are out there, the person with triple digit (or worse) numbers of unopened emails in your inbox. When I think of a scary movie being set around a work environment, seeing hundreds of unopened emails would make me sink into the couch and cover my eyes with a blanket. Clean your inbox, break up folders for different clients, and solve any confusion you may have from seeing big numbers next to your inbox button.
DO: Check Your Email on YOUR Time
Meaning don’t get caught checking your email every few minutes. One of the biggest momentum killers is getting in the habit of checking your email frequently, pausing what you may be doing, thus making you reset your focus.
At Revenue River Marketing, we aim to check our email 3-4 times a day (unless of course it is time sensitive), which truly helps us stay engaged with content creation and client deliverables.
DO: Remember Some Things are Safer Kept Private
“Oh, you just got back from your buddies bachelor party in Las Vegas? Oh, you want to email me those pictures that should never surface more than once in your life?” Probably NOT a good idea, especially through company email.
This isn’t a new found rule either; it’s been a well-known rule for a while. Not to condone the act, but this is why we have personal emails, people.
DO: Use Skype (or Other Chat App) for the Excess Conversations
A very common instant messaging tool that every company should use in the office is Skype. Not to beat a dead horse, because I am sure most companies use some form of instant messaging for in-office conversation, but the idea of keeping your work email separate from a more laid back conversation is a game changer.
Don’t get me wrong, the reason to use an instant messaging tool is still work driven, but we are all human and sometimes that means having a non-work related conversation. This also helps cut down your inbox clutter by sending what you could say over messaging in an email…it’s a win-win scenario if you ask me. (PS – You can use emoticons in Skype and I won’t be mad! Honest!)
The DON'Ts of Email at Work...
DON’T: Abbrv8… I Mean, Abbreviate
You had to know this one was coming. Although we aren’t ranking these “do’s” and “don’ts”, this one is very near the top of the list. Remember, you are emailing in a professional setting, so terms like “thx” and “lol” or “c u @ wrk l8r” should never cross your mind when emailing at work (just typing that last one makes me cringe). Here’s a helpful resource to make sure abbreviations NEVER happen: The Slang Translator
Ah yes, another one that gives me chills every time I see it… the exclamation point. Because I am a visual person, I see the overuse of exclamation points, or the dreaded “caps lock email” as yelling, as most people might. The exclamation point can give false expectation or raised hope when used in the wrong context. There is a right time for an exclamation, but before you think about holding your fingers down on the “Shift” “1” keys, think about the context in which your email may be received.
DON’T: :) or :(
This may just be me, but does anyone else get a little cringe when you see a smiley/sad face emoticon? In a professional setting, much like abbreviating, it gives off the vibe of being too lax or laid back. Keep it professional, leave out the emoticons.
DON’T: Send the One Word “Okay” or “Thanks” Response
Not to counter the point above, but keeping messages short is ideal, sending the dreaded, non-descriptive one word email is not so ideal. Sending content for edits or emails that require a detailed answer can’t be answered with a simple “okay”, give the sender the courtesy of the answer or closure they need, as to not drag on the email chain with answers that don’t clarify what is being asked.
DON’T: Use the Reply All Button at Will
There comes a time in every marketer’s life, where they realize that the “reply all” button isn’t always necessary. This continues the discussion of the unnecessary email chain. If there are multiple people on an email chain, yet you need to reply to just one or two, don’t be afraid to do so…in fact, do so!
DON’T: Email if You’re Burnt Out
It’s 11:30am, almost lunch time, you can hear your stomach yelling your name for food. Or better yet, you just surfaced from your computer screen after writing several blog posts for all of your clients; your eyes are glazed over. But you want to send a work email that requires serious thought and inquiry…STOP!
Take a deep breathe, stand up, take a lap or grab some water. There are so many instances where an important email should wait based on your patience, stress level, etc. It may sound funny, but you should know when you are sane enough to send a clear and thought out email of significance.
DON’T: Mobile Email Signatures
I’ve seen this one too many times, and I just can’t find any humor or use for the “sent from my iPhone, please excuse any typos” or “sent with my thumbs” email signature. Especially when connecting in a business setting, it gives a sense of cheapening the importance of some emails that may come through. Be consistent, set your mobile email signature to the same business signature you use when at your computer.
The Bottom Line
It’s tough to follow proper etiquette when emailing at work, I have broken a few of these rules multiple times. At the same time, there are a few of these tips that really should never show up in a professional email, no matter how laid back the company tone is.
Next time you find yourself breaking one of these rules, take a step back from the keyboard, and think, “What would Tom Burgess do?”
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