Email growth unmanageable without etiquette

Anny Chih photo

By Anny Chih, 24 hours Vancouver

Hitting 'reply all' drives your co-workers crazy. 

Hitting 'reply all' drives your co-workers crazy. (FOTOLIA)


In 2012, the McKinsey Global Institute issued a report which showed that each worker spends approximately 28% of their workday reading and answering email. According to technology market research firm The Radicati Group, Inc., business email users received and sent an average of 110 emails per day that year – an average that increased to 121 emails each day in 2014 and is projected to continue growing by a rate of 4% every year until 2017.

When the amount of time spent emailing grows faster than inflation-adjusted income, following email etiquette becomes a lot more important to your co-workers when they consider how much they like working with you.

Email etiquette is about more than writing a friendly greeting at the start of each message or using an appropriate office signature. Having good digital manners means knowing the differences between To / Cc / Bcc / Reply / Reply All, writing brief descriptive Subject lines, and knowing when not to use email at all.

When composing an email, the recipients who need to act on or are directly affected by its contents should be included in the To section. Everyone else should be Cc’d. The Bcc option exists only for the rare occasions when you are emailing a group of recipients whose contact information should remain private.

Whenever possible, avoid using the Reply All option. Over 193 billion emails are sent each day – a number which does not need to be supplemented by your “Thanks!” message that’s really only directed at one person but would be spammed to every person on the email with one click of the greatly unpopular Reply All option.

With excess email clogging inboxes around the globe, well-written Subject lines have become increasingly important to users who want to find your message. A Subject line should give the reader a clear understanding of what’s in the email without having to open it. For example, “Order Number 123 was not received – Please expedite shipping for 1/27” is a much more useful than “I need help with an order” as a Subject line.

But the most important thing to remember when it comes to email is when not to use it at all. A good rule of thumb is to only use email when you are thanking someone for a job well done, need to submit a standard request, or are responding to a request that was emailed to you. If you want to provide negative feedback, organize a social gathering, or request something out of the ordinary, it’s best to use an alternative method of contact because email is permanent and traceable, is often read more negatively than intended, and threateningly ubiquitous.  


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