There’s a lot of technology in the office that enables you to function on a day-to-day basis. Complex tech can be difficult to learn, but it’s often the simplest tech that ends up causing the biggest problems.
That’s definitely the case when it comes to email.
There’s no denying that sending an email is convenient, but therein lies the problem. The more convenient it is, the more likely it is to be abused.
If you’re tired of dealing with email when there are more important things to do, and you know your coworkers feel the same way, it’s time to start thinking about how emails work in your office.
Security Is Extremely Important
Before you start worrying about what to say in an email and when it’s appropriate to send another one, you have to make sure everything is secure. If you don’t, your emails could be intercepted, and important information could be compromised.
That includes making sure your programs are updated regularly, you have the right antivirus software installed, and it wouldn’t hurt to enable two-factor authentication.
It also includes replacing tech that is no longer serving your company, as well as replacing tech before it becomes obsolete. For example, if your office is using Infoblox, it’s time to find an Infoblox alternative before it’s too late and your DDI is compromised.
Automate Emails That Can Be Automated
You probably spend a lot more time going through and responding to emails than you would like. Although it’s important to return some messages, others shouldn’t require as much attention as they do.
The solution is to automate as many emails and tasks as you can. Every email provider has ways to automate messages and tasks, including Gmail. A few tips include:
- Create a bank of prewritten replies that can be sent at the push of a button.
- Switch between multiple signatures, depending on the recipient.
- Mute irrelevant email conversations so you aren’t rereading the same information.
- Learn keyboard shortcuts to make email even easier.
Know When to Use Email, and When Not To
In today’s fast-paced world, there are many different ways to communicate. Since email is one of the most convenient ways to send a message in an instant, it gets used a lot, even though there are plenty of situations where it isn’t the best choice.
For example, there are times when using the phone is more effective than sending an email. In other cases, opening up a chat window might be a better option.
It’s important that you put a plan in place in your office that outlines when everyone should be using email. Discourage it as a way to collaborate, and encourage tools like Skype instead. Quick questions can be addressed in a chat window, and personal or customer information should be shared using more secure channels.
Give Yourself and the Recipient a Deadline
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that email should be instantaneous. It’s not good for people to hound their email all day long, responding to messages immediately as they come up. It wastes a lot of time.
Set more realistic expectations for when you expect to receive a message in response. It’s perfectly reasonable not to receive a message in return for a few days.
Making sure expectations are clear can help too. If something is sensitive, make sure you say so in the email and request a response within 24 hours. Give yourself a deadline for responding to all important messages within the same time frame. It will make things go much more smoothly.
Email Only the Most Relevant Parties
There’s nothing worse than combing through an inbox that’s full of forwarded messages, trying to figure out which portion of which messages are actually relevant to you.
When you send an email, only email the most relevant parties. That means looking through the recipients and removing people as necessary. It may also involve adding a few parties that weren’t included in the initial message or creating a new message with all the old, irrelevant information excluded.
It may also include searching for someone’s email address, which can be an especially big challenge if the person isn’t located in your office. However, it ensures only the most relevant parties get the most relevant information.
Utilize Subject Lines
One of the hardest parts of sending an email is also the simplest—the subject line. It can give the reader a snapshot of what they’ll find in the body of the email. The trouble is, it rarely works the way it should.
The rules are a little different for marketing emails, but there are some similarities with office emails. For example, subject lines should always be short and to the point. Personalization can help too. If something is urgent, say so, and if something can wait, you should say that too.
Keep Things Clear, Brief, and Professional
How much time do you spend reading a single email? Unfortunately, some people think it’s the perfect format for long-form messages. At work, that shouldn’t be the case.
Everyone’s emails are probably too long, and it’s time to reign things in. Cut the fluff at the beginning of every email, and try using bulleted lists for multiple items that need to be addressed.
Professionalism is important too. Messages are logged and can be accessed in the future, so it’s important to protect yourself from misunderstandings by keeping everything extremely professional. Use salutations, sign your emails, and use please and thank you. Not only do professional emails tend to be shorter than personal emails, but they can also foster a warm, professional environment in the workplace.
Don’t let email take over the office and slow everyone down. It can be fast and effective, but just like nearly everything else in the office, it’s important to give it the individual attention it deserves. Work your way through this list, using its points to create an email policy that works for your office.