Dec 21, 2007

Modern holyday: too wired

Weekend getaways and romantic dinners used to be sweet escapes from the daily grind. Nowadays, they are often interrupted by a buzzing Blackberry or the ding of an instant message on the wireless laptop.

That's not news to modern workers, many of whom may just be getting back from a long winter break during which they worked more than in years past.

An AP poll this year found that one-fifth of Americans tote a laptop on vacation. Countless more carry cell phones, many of which can be used to check company e-mail. And why not? With wireless coverage extending, staying connected is simple.

A nine-year study of more than 12,000 middle-aged men at high risk of heart disease showed that participants who vacationed more had a lower risk of dying than the vacation-deprived... Read more...

Dec 10, 2007

Cultural impact of the technology wave

It was clear that the combination of digitization and a worldwide network of communications networks would change culture radically, but even a decade ago the scope and scale of change were unknown.

Who could have foreseen the iPod revolution, or the fact that selling pop tunes to signify when you have an incoming cell phone call would be a $600 million a year business in the U.S. alone?

The last 20 years have seen developments in digital, computing, and communication technologies that have been absolutely unprecedented in their rate and intensity, which has made the broader impact of these developments extremely difficult to anticipate or predict.

But you don't have to be a technological determinist to observe that this sea change in technology has brought about similarly profound social and cultural changes.

When considering the impacts of digital technology on art and culture, the early focus was on pragmatic and logistical matters like copyright and delivery systems. But the major impacts of technology have been in areas like the intersection among artist, institution and audience, and the ability of non-artists to interact with objects that were once, only a short time ago, beyond their reach.

Read more from Carleton University Magazine Online.

Dec 6, 2007

Taken care of the use of "cc" field

When sending an e-mail, try not to use the "cc:" field unless the recipient in this field knows why they are receiving a copy of the message.

Using the "cc:" field can be confusing for the recipients. They might not know who is supposed to act on the message or what is their role with that e-mail.

Also, when responding to a "cc:" message, should you include the other recipient in the cc: field as well?

This will depend on the situation. In general, do not include the person in the "cc:" field unless you have a relevant reason for wanting this person to see your response.

If a copy must be sent to others, it is useful and gives a good impression, to explain why the e-mail is also being sent to others.

Remember that what is “obvious” to you as a sender, almost never is to your recipients, as mentioned in their frequent complaints about ineffective e-mails.

More recommendations for senders in my book Email at the workplace.

Nov 18, 2007

Email etiquette: Key to workplace harmony

Consider and then deliver if you want to prevent embarrassing yourself at work with email...

Two-thirds of Australian workers admit to being trigger-happy emailers.

A report found almost half of all workers rely on email as their primary method for business communications, with women 11 per cent more likely to use it than men.

More than half of those surveyed for the report admitted to sending an email that was misunderstood. Grammar and haste could be the main cause of misinterpreted emails.

The report revealed men (48 per cent) were more likely to misread the meaning of an email than women (38 per cent).

40 per cent of workers have sent or received an email that appeared to be offhand, cynical or rude, and 38 per cent have sent or received an email that conveyed anger or was emotional in nature.

Workers can avoid email mishaps by taking the time to craft their reply and not relying on email as their sole method of communication.


Nov 9, 2007

If you message is too serious, don't use email

For sensitive issues, such as appraisals, coaching, counselling, company change, a face-to-face approach is always best.

If any type of work negotiation is involved, such as agreeing deadlines or priorities, meet the person or at least pick up the phone. It's tempting to opt for speed, but an efficient phone conversation often covers all the points more quickly than tens of emails.

One definite no-no is using email for unpleasant messages.

Never, ever send people bad or difficult messages, or anything that puts them down. If there's a problem, speak to them directly. It's about using your discretion.

E-mail at the workplace is a fantastic tool for passing on information quickly, cheaply and easily. But it is dangerous to embrace it as your only means of communicating.

Using email for sensitive and subtle messages not only leads to misunderstandings, but it puts our ability to express ourselves on the fireline.

A golden rule: If you can see or call the person, don't email them. Get out of your chair and talk to them, or pick up the phone and call them. You'll be honing your communications skills, combating email overload, and building better workplace relationships.

See more recomedations for senders using email.

Oct 2, 2007

38% of US employees have sent an e-mail without required attachment

10% of US employees say their company has used email to fire or lay off employees. And 17% indicated their boss used emails to avoid other difficult face-to-face conversations.

5% of respondents had been the recipient of a humiliating email that was copied to other individuals. 23% of workers have received a politically incorrect email, 15% have been the recipients of an email sent in anger, and 13% reported receiving flirtatious emails, Harris Interactive reports.

19% said they had sent an email to the wrong person, and 38% had sent an email without an intended attachment.

All these figures are evidence of some of the bad management practices with email in the workplace.

Sep 11, 2007

What message are you sending?

Each time you click "send," the e-mail being delivered says a lot about you and your organization.

Are you practicing appropriate e-mail etiquette, or are your e-mails conveying messages that are hurting your reputation and credibility?

More and more businesses are discovering the importance of establishing specific corporate guidelines regarding e-mail practices.

There is an assumed informality surrounding e-mail usage, but e-mail is no different than any other form of business communication.

Your contacts form opinions about you and your business based on your e-mail communications and how you use technology.

Improper e-mail usage can give someone the perception that you lack education, have limited experience with technology, or lack credibility.

Mastering your e-mail skills can go a long way toward forging the most professional image you can with potential clients, existing customers, and anyone else you communicate with via e-mail.

Do you want help?

Aug 15, 2007

List turnover biggest issue for e-mail marketers

39% of e-mail marketers said list turnover is their biggest challenge in a survey conducted by JupiterResearch. 24% of respondents said they plan to implement a viral marketing campaign, only 10% said such actions were very successful. 15%% of survey respondents plan to begin appending email addresses to their customer lists, but only 4% of those who had tried this tactic rated it successful.

Jul 7, 2007

Do you know someone emailaholic?

In the ClearContext 2006 Email Usage Survey 41% of the respondents stated they are checking their email "constantly".

In fact, they found that even though we are getting the same amount of email as last year we are spending more time managing the email we get.

They also found that 25% of the people responding to the survey are spending 4 or more hours every day managing email.

That's half the work day! How are you expected to get anything else done when email is taking up half of your day?

Over 50% of UK business users are unable to walk away from their emails, even when on leave or off sick, according to the results of Mesmo Consultancy’s latest research on email behaviour as revealed at Inbox/Outbox 2007.

Jun 29, 2007

E-mail bankruptcy

The term "e-mail bankruptcy" may have been coined as early as 1999 by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, who studies the relationship between people and technology.

Professor Sherry Turkle said she came up with the concept after researching e-mail, and discovering that some people harbor fantasies about escaping their e-mail burden. She estimated that she has 2,500 pieces of unread e-mail in her inbox, is one of those people.

The supposed convenience of electronic mail has become too much for some people. Swamped by an unmanageable number of messages and plagued by annoying spam and viruses, some users are really overload.

Those declaring bankruptcy are swearing off e-mail entirely or, more commonly, deleting all old messages and starting fresh.

Many workers like the feeling that they have everything done at the end of the day, but e-mail overload gives them the sense that their work is never done. So, some are moving back to the telephone as their preferred means of communication.

Some people, who don't want to go through the drastic-seeming measure of declaring total bankruptcy, are trying to gently discourage the use of e-mail in their communications in favor of more personal calls or instant messages, but they continue to struggle with the question of whether or not to reply.

More info->

Jun 6, 2007

Are teammates not talking to each other enough?

As the workplace speeds up, and time pressures become ever greater, are you in danger of having faceless business relationships with clients and colleagues?

A british report reveals that we are increasingly reliant on email and text messages at work, and that good old talking is taking a back seat. Xerox company quizzed 500 of their managers across the UK about the way they communicate in business, and the results were startling.

UK businesses are finding that their competitiveness and productivity is being seriously affected by overloaded e-mail inboxes. Over 70 per cent of managers said that up to half of their e-mails had attachments, many of which were not relevant to them or contained multiple versions of the same document.

More than half of the managers admitted they have business relationships with people they only contact by email, not only have they never met, but they have never actually spoken. A similar amount of people also said they received far too many emails about issues that could be better resolved with a quick phone call or a conversation.

Are people not talking to each other enough, and are we putting our social skills of personal interaction and communication in jeopardy?

The report finds that 83 per cent of managers believe that by choosing typing over talking we risk losing our ability to relate to one another. And, worryingly, the under-thirties in the survey -the first texting generation- saw no problem with the abundance of keyboard-generated messages.

You can't build effective relationships between teams, or with clients and colleagues, purely with electronic communication. Business is about people, and to understand each other clearly, we need other prompts, such as voice tone, facial expression and body language. Misunderstandings caused by email are extremely common.

Opting out of verbal communication also risks damaging performance. How can you get the best from someone by firing off an email giving them work to do? It's an imposition; you have no idea of their workload, or priorities - or if they are even there! Dumping on people via email puts pressure on them, and causes stress, overload and resentment.

May 16, 2007

In 2007 spam will overtake personal e-mail

IDC predicts that nearly 97 bln emails, over 40 bln of which will be spam messages, will be sent daily worldwide in 2007. This is the first year that spam email volumes are expected to exceed person-to-person email volumes sent worldwide.

IDC estimates that the size of business email volumes sent annually worldwide in 2007 will approach 5 exabytes, nearly doubling the amount over the past two years.

Don't you think that email management every day is more demanding?

Apr 20, 2007

Spam costs US businesses $612 per employee per year

Nucleus Research announced that the spam epidemic is costing US businesses $712 per employee each year in lost worker productivity.

As a result, users are spending 16 seconds identifying and deleting each spam e-mail, which translates into an annual cost of $70 bln to all US businesses.

Looking at the total e-mail traffic, Nucleus estimates that at least 90% of e-mail reaching corporate servers is spam. The average user receives 21 spam messages to their inbox each day. Many e-mail filtering technologies block anything with the word Nigeria in the title or text.

How long do you take to filter (fight) spam?

Mar 20, 2007

Do you want to reduce electronic risks in the workplace?

Take the initiative. Don't wait for an "e-disaster" to strike. Develop and implement written eMail, Internet, and software usage policies that clearly spell out the organization's expected standards of "digital behavior", along with privacy and monitoring policies.

Companies must consider e-mail as a management issue of strategic importance. There’s no doubt that using this communication medium properly helps save time and money, but as we have already seen, in some cases it can be very unproductive.

While no workplace ever can be 100% safe from electronic risks, a written "e-policy" (coupled with a comprehensive employee education program) can help for-profit businesses to control risks at workplace for bad practices on written communications.

Organizations must promote spaces for “meeting and exchange” where employees can voice their concerns as senders and recipients, share their experiences in their daily work, establish opportunities for improvement, and receive coaching.

The associated financial costs have such an impact that the topic needs to be discussed at all levels in the company, specially in upper management.

Mar 9, 2007

Jargon that is sometimes used on emails

* Spam: Unsolicited email sent to many people simultaneously, usually commercial, but also "occupational" (emails from colleagues).

* Bounce: A message that was returned to the sender, either because the email address was incorrect or because there was a configuration problem on the receiver's end.

* Distribution list: A single email address that resends to many others, allowing a discussion to continue easily among a quasi-stable group of participants.

* Bot: A piece of software that acts on behalf of a remote human (from roBOT).

* Mailbot: A piece of software that automatically replies to email.

* Listbot: A piece of software that manages distribution lists. Also called a listserver or majordomo.

* Flame: An electronic message that is particularly hostile...

* Lurk: To read messages anonymously, without posting.

* Ping: Test to see if the other person is there, or awake, or available...

Feb 22, 2007

Reasons that makes email different from paper based communication

The turnaround time can be faster. So email is more conversational.

In a paper document it's essential to make everything unambiguous because recipients not have a chance to ask for clarification. But with email documents, your recipient can ask questions immediately.

Never you need to be so formal in an email to tell your co-worker that you are ready to go to lunch, and you never wouldn't do that on a paper letter.

Your correspondent also won't have normal status cues (such as dress or diction). So may make assumptions based on your name, address, and facility with written language.

Email also does not convey emotions nearly as well as face-to-face or even telephone conversations. It lacks vocal inflection, gestures, and a shared environment.

Your recipient often have difficulty telling if you are serious or kidding, happy or sad, frustrated or euphoric. Sarcasm is particularly dangerous to use in email.

Another difference is that what the sender sees when composing an email might not look like what the reader sees. Your words tone only sound in your mind.

Your message's visual style may be quite different by the time it gets to someone else's screen. The software and hardware that you use for your emails may be different from what your recipient uses.

Feb 12, 2007

The potential for messy and costly e-crises is huge

Electronic disasters can ruin businesses, sink careers, send stock prices plummeting, and create public relations nightmares.

Don't let an "e-disaster" catch you off guard. For responsible organizations operating in the age of electronic communication and commerce, a written "e-policy" is an essential and savy business tool.

An "e-policy" that is well-written and effectively communicated to all employees is one of the best ways for employers to protect themselves from workplace lawsuits and other risks associated with the inappropriate use of corporate software, e-mail, and Internet systems.

Inappropriate e-mail can trigger workplace lawsuits claims. If a former employee subpoenas company e-mail in the course of a wrongful termination lawsuit, your organization could face a lengthy and expensive search for back-up e-mail messages.

In one case, a Fortune 500 company was ordered by a court to turn over any e-mail that mentioned the name of a former employee who was suing the company for improper termination.

With no policy in place for purging e-mail, the company faced the prospect of searching more than 20,000 back-up tapes, containing millions of messages, at a cost of $1,000 per tape. Total potential cost for that electronic search: $20 million.

Jan 24, 2007

Verbal irony use computer-mediated conversations

A research published by the Journal of Language and Social Psychology show how peakers use a range of cues to signal ironic intent, including cues based on contrast with context, verbal, and paralinguistic cues.

Theyrely on cues provided by addressees regarding comprehension of irony. But when such cues are unavailable, you may think speakers use less irony because of the risk of miscommunication, and addressees may be more likely to misinterpret irony.

Eventhough, contrary to expectations, speakers in the computer condition used more irony than face-to-face speakers. They overvalue their capacity to communicate acurately their emotions by writing.

At the workplace, this overestimation is the begining for uncountable and unproductive discussions by e-mails.

Comprehension of irony did not appear to differ across settings, although addressees in the computer condition provided less feedback (positive or negative) to their partners about their comprehension.

These results are discussed in terms of possible differences in the discourse goals and relational strategies engendered by computer-mediated and face-to-face communicative settings. See the research...

Jan 14, 2007

How much US worker "interruptions" cost?

U.S. office workers get interrupted on the job as often as 11 times an hour, costing as much as $588 billion to U.S. business each year, according to research.

Adding the distracting lure of checking e-mails, surfing the Internet and chatting by computer, and workers interrupt themselves nearly as much as they are interrupted by others, experts say.

"With instant messaging on your desktop and alerts and e-mail notifications, you set yourself up for it," said John Putzier, founder of FirStep Inc. business strategists in Prospect, Pennsylvania.

The barrage of interruptions and distractions only worsens at this time of year, experts say.
 "We have more things pulling at us," said Jonathan Spira, chief executive of Basex, a business consulting firm that researched the cost of interruptions.

From online shopping at work to planning the office holiday party, workers are bombarded with distractions, he said.
"These holiday distractions result in more interruptions. It's certainly a recipe for even less work getting done, no question about it," he said.

A typical manager is interrupted six times an hour, one recent study showed, while another found the average cubicle worker is interrupted more than 70 times a day.

Other research has found office workers getting interrupted every 11 minutes, while another study said nearly half of workplace interruptions are self-imposed.

A study by Basex found office distractions take up 2.1 hours of the average day --28 percent-- with workers taking an average of five minutes to recover from each interruption and return to their original tasks.