5 New Best Practices for Company Emails

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(Newswire.net — April 8, 2016) — Emails have been used for more than 20 years in businesses and organizations. Fast, reliable, and flexible, they continue to be one of the best communication mediums for professionals. But unfortunately, some constructs of etiquette, security, and form haven’t evolved with the technology’s capacity. Many professionals are still using emails the same way they did 20 years ago, without adjusting for the countless changes that have taken place since then.

A New Era of Communication

We live in an era of multifaceted communication, with hundreds of devices, apps, and platforms to keep us in touch with each other in almost any way you can imagine. So why is email still around? There are a few reasons, among them being email’s practicality and the fact that no single app or company “owns” email. Still, with so many new features and new expectations in the digital world, the way we use email needs to change if we want to make the most of it.

Take these “new” best practices as examples of how to do it:

  1. Get rid of the footers. This is a simple change, but remains a persistent email element, and it needs to go away. When people realized they could create footers for their emails, they started making long, rambling mini-resumes, with images, links, and tons of text. For the most part, these are unnecessary. Your email likely already has your domain and name available. Aside from a simple signoff and a phone number, most of the other colorful additions can be left off. It takes up space and might even trigger your email to be filtered out as spam if it contains too much information.
  2. Integrate encrypted emails. “Email encryption” sounds like something complicated, challenging, and unnecessary, but when exchanging sensitive information online, security is tantamount. Plus, setting up email encryption is probably easier than you think. If you’re using public Internet access, or if your company Wi-Fi is unsecured (hint: it shouldn’t be), all your emails are practically available to the public. Plus, you never know when someone on the other end is using a flawed email or Internet system. Setting up email encryption ensures that your sensitive attachments and data remain protected.
  3. Set up security gateways. No matter how educated your employees are about email best practices, there’s still a chance that someone is going to click on a phishing link or download an attachment that contains spyware. It’s also possible that some people in your organization are using your email servers to send and receive inappropriate content. A good security gateway can prevent (and/or solve) these problems. Today’s security gateways come in a number of forms, from cloud-based software to physical apps that are stored on the premises.
  4. Know when email isn’t the right medium. Because there are so many choices for communication modes, it’s not a good idea to rely on email for everything. It’s practical and ubiquitous, yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best medium for achieving communicative success. Phone calls, text messages, IMs, and video chats all have their own advantages for different situations, and you’d be wise to learn them.
  5. Loosen up with the language. Email’s level of formality has always been debatable and adaptable, but for the most part, you don’t need to worry about maintaining an air of uber-professionalism. Email’s primary goal is to communicate a simple message from one person to another, and in most cases, that’s best done conversationally, and in a friendly way. Historically, there have been people on both sides of the fence on emoticon use, but by today’s standards, the occasional smiley isn’t just acceptable—it’s expected. Unless you work for a very conservative organization or you’re trying to make a perfect first impression, don’t be afraid to get looser with the language you use—as long as your messages are still clear and concise.

These best practices don’t mark the end of email’s evolution. Thanks to its ubiquitous nature, it’s highly likely that it will continue sticking around as a mode of professional exchange for the foreseeable future, and that means it’s liable to evolve even further. These changes in etiquette, practicality, and security will be gradual and hard to notice, but if you want to remain an effective communicator in your career and in your organization, it’s on you to keep up with them.