4 ways to navigate digital etiquette at work
Technology has transformed how we interact with colleagues and customers, from emails to Teams messages to video calls. As an internal communicator, what does digital etiquette look like in today’s workplace? Our increased reliance on digital comms requires us to create and follow effective and respectful internal communication guidelines.
- Thoughtfully choose your channel
Compelling (and polite) internal comms begin by selecting the most appropriate channel for every message. These are some of the best uses for today’s most popular digital channels:
- Email is ideal for messages requiring undivided attention, providing complex information, linking to supplementary content, addressing intricate technical details, or sending reminders and action items.
- Collaborative messaging platforms like Teams and Slack are great for addressing quick questions, group brainstorming sessions, and ongoing discussions that thrive on diverse perspectives and inputs.
- Video calls are best for important meetings with remote employees like performance reviews and strategy discussions, collaborative brainstorming sessions with virtual teams, visual demonstrations or presentations, and when resolving complex issues.
By understanding the strengths and drawbacks of each platform, you can ensure your message reaches the right audience through the most effective medium.
- Be mindful of digital overload
While having access to different comms channels can be helpful, it can also lead to digital overload (i.e., being overwhelmed or inundated with excessive digital information and communications). Here are a few ways to minimize overwhelm:
- Thoughtfully curate segmented email lists — for example, remote employees, your in-office team, and your field staff. By only sending relevant emails to each list, you can minimize email overload.
- Send shorter emails. If employees complain about receiving too much email, you’re sending too much irrelevant content or simply too much content to process within each message. If you have a lot of content to share, send shorter messages more often.
- Consider distributing messages in smaller team meetings, one-on-ones, or companywide meetings.
- Strategically cc recipients.
You can foster a more focused and productive work environment by reducing digital noise and streamlining communication.
- Use clear and concise subject lines, headlines, and bylines
Opening a message with a clear, concise summary sentence (or question) is the best way to grab attention. The most effective subject lines are informative and relevant. Subject lines may seem minor, but they’re a simple way to respect folks’ time. Concisely summarize the purpose or content of the email. Since mobile opens account for 46 percent of all email marketing opens, and about 19% of corporate email opens, aim for subject lines around 42 characters in length, or seven words. If there is an action or deadline, include it in the subject line. Use specific numbers and dates. These practices can help recipients prioritize and organize their inboxes efficiently.
- Proofread your content
Review your emails for spelling, grammar, and clarity before hitting the send button. Misleading or inaccurate information wastes time and leads to avoidable confusion and stress.
- Avoid using jargon or abbreviations that might confuse recipients.
- If you reference a date, ensure the day of the week and the date are accurate (and match).
- If you include a link, ensure it works and is accessible to recipients.
- If you reference an attachment, double-check that you attach the correct resource.
- Use grammar and spell-check tools to minimize errors.
- Proofread your emails before sending them. If you tend to edit excessively, set a limit for yourself.
- Ask a colleague or friend to review essential emails before sending them.
Mistakes happen but focus on communicating clearly, being respectful, and providing relevant information.
By following these etiquette tips, you can elevate the clarity and efficacy of your internal communications, increase engagement, and mitigate overwhelm and confusion. Carefully select the most suitable communication channel, be mindful of digital overload, write clear and concise subject lines, and proofread your content. Your people will appreciate your efforts!