Netiquette at work is a bit like driving. Although mostly people get where they want to go, you run into your share of idiots and rude folks along the way, and once in a while there is a complete crash-and-burn disaster. You can avoid getting caught in an awkward position if you just keep these simple netiquette tips in mind for when you’re emailing within a work environment.
1. Don’t use all caps and large fonts. This is the equivalent of shouting and is probably the most offensive thing you can do in an email.
2. Same thing with weird fonts and colors. They’re not as bad as all caps in the sense of being offensive, but they are annoying and look not serious, unprofessional and inappropriate for work.
3. Make sure that you put in an appropriate subject for your email. People can have thousands of emails archived and having “Hi” as the subject line of your email is not very helpful when someone is trying to find one of your old emails.
4. Don’t forget to put in a greeting at the start of your email, no matter how busy you are. Not starting off your message with ‘Dear So-and-So’, or ‘Hello X,’ can seem abrupt and rude. You wouldn’t just start talking to someone in person without saying hello, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same in email.
5. Along with the greeting, always sign off on your email. Using a signature which has all your information such as your position and contact details at the bottom is pretty convenient. It also comes off as professional and concise.
6. If you’re sending a mass email, BCC the recipients when appropriate. Some people don’t like strangers being able to see their email address.
7. If sending to people you don’t know very well, avoid sarcasm and jokes. One workplace we know had bad experiences with this and ended up having a rule where jokes had to be written in a yellow font so there was no making any mistakes about it. Written messages don’t come with body language, so what might seem like a harmless joke could end up being misunderstood.
8. If you absolutely must send jokes or iffy comments, take a deep breath and double-check the person who you’re sending to. We’ve all been victims of the disaster where you send the wrong email to the wrong person.
9. Following number 8: if it’s one of those emails that might have seemed funny at the time but could be incredibly embarrassing later, send it from your personal email address, preferably to your friend’s personal email address.
10. It goes without saying but still has to be said. Don’t forward on lewd jokes and photos. You never know who is looking and who might be offended. Sending funny (non-suggestive) forwards should be ok if done sparingly.
11. Last but not least, know that any work emails you send are considered company property. Even when you’ve already deleted a message, it’s possible that copies still exist somewhere. If you don’t want written proof of something embarrassing or incriminating to come back to haunt you, just don’t send it. Remember, when you are on a network, paranoia pays off.