In the modern workplace, email and chat apps jostle to dominate internal communication. What situations call for you to write a real-time message versus an email?
The choice isn’t always clear, and leaving it up to each employee leads to wasted time and frustration.
To create a healthy communication culture, you need to get everyone on the same page.
How can my company sort out email and chat?
Companies should establish clear expectations for communication in general and email and chat in particular. These expectations should be expressed verbally and through formal policies and procedures. Consider these topics:
- Communication Standards—Describe your organization’s preferred communication tools, standards, and values.
- Etiquette and Behavior—Set expectations for presence and responsiveness, describe how to handle sensitive information, set boundaries for humor and off-topic messages, etc.
- When to Use Email vs. Chat—Explain the typical uses for each mode. (See the table below.)
- How to Use Email Effectively—Indicate the best uses of email as well as company expectations for email use.
- How to Use Chat Effectively—Communicate your team's best practices for using Slack, Google Chat, Microsoft Teams, or whatever service you use.
Can email and chat coexist?
Absolutely. When used properly, the strengths of real-time messaging make up for weaknesses of email, and vice versa. Follow these best practices.
|Use email to . . .
||Use chat apps to . . .
|Make a formal request
||Make a time-sensitive request
|Give important background information or context
||Ask for simple clarification
|Share important news
||Share routine or light-hearted news
|Make multiple points at once
||Collaborate and problem-solve synchronously
|Explain a complicated topic
||Ask for a quick update
|Collaborate with an external audience
||Collaborate with an internal audience
Each business communicates differently, and teams work best when they understand their communication culture.