Workplace Text and Email Rules

September 12, 2018


I came across an article in the New York Post on 4/2/18 written by Virginia Backaitis that started me thinking: how to effectively communicate in one’s office in this digital age.

I admit I have ambivalent thoughts about all this emailing and texting. I once worked in an agency where an account exec sat directly across the aisle and never talked – everything came from him to me via email. I found it annoying and was told by others that he did it as a form of “protection.” I think paranoia is a better word.

With another account person, I’d go to him periodically (maybe once every three weeks) to discuss the details of a project. I’d worked with him at another ad agency and considered him a friend, so I was stunned when he told me that I “wasn’t allowed to talk to him” – everything had to be done via email. I thought to myself, “Who are you? The Pope!” Shortly after he was fired: the client wanted him off the account. As we all know, that’s the kiss of death.


A survey by an executive search firm (Korn Ferry) found that 83% of millennial managers favor communicating by text or email, 14% favor talking face-to-face and 3% prefer phone calls.

Also, workers aren’t always at the same place at the same time according to Robb Hecht, an adjunct professor of marketing at Baruch College. “These days, nobody picks up the phone anymore so the primary means of intra-office communication is typically email.” He has a point.


“This should be done privately and in person,” says Dan Schawbel, a millennial expert and author of Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation.  

A small number of those aged 21 to 35 preferred the text option, according to a recent survey conducted by a software company named CyberLink. This study found that one in eight would opt to be fired via text or instant message, rather than face-to-face or by phone. “It’s far easier to accept rejection or failure, when it’s done digitally, as opposed to actually hearing it in person or on the phone,” says Schawbel. BUT HE DOESN’T LIKE THE IDEA. (Neither do I.) In fact, his research has shown that today’s workforce yearns for human interaction.


Ted Guggenheim, co-founder of TextUs, says recruiters are using TextUs to solicit job referrals, plus schedule, confirm and get follow-up info on appointments. Text-based job interviews are also becoming popular according to Aman Brar, CEO of Canvas, a service that connects employers and potential hires via text.   


In a second New York Post article on 5/14/18 by Backaitis she looks into arriving late at the office. An employment site called CareerBuilder found that 43% of managers have fired someone for being tardy. But some look past employee tardiness because it may not be the most important box to check.

But etiquette expert April Masini, who runs a relationship-advice forum sees it differently. “When a person is late, you’re seeing a personality that’s about being self-involved. When you have a meeting and someone is late or misses it over and over, they are giving you a silent middle-finger.”

Bottom Line: being on time matters. Greatly.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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