The disadvantages of email in business may not outweigh the benefits, but they are still worth noting. If care is not used, email can become distracting throughout the day, cutting down on productivity by creating the illusion of completing work. Email also creates the illusion of anonymity. These issues, plus other dangers, make it necessary to be discreet with email use.

Benefits of Email

Email has become an important tool for businesses, simplifying communication and allowing for quicker access to important information. With email, businesses can cut down on the number of meetings that interrupt work time by allowing for the immediate sharing of information. This immediacy also allows for more freedom, as employees can be located anywhere and still be kept up-to-date.

Almost everyone has an email address these days, so access to people is easier. This ease of access, as well as the availability of free or low-cost email solutions, makes email a cost-effective means of communication.

However, while these benefits are useful, there are still some drawbacks to using email as the primary means of communication.

The Dangers of Viruses and Scams

As email becomes more prevalent, hackers and scammers become more sophisticated in their schemes, using tools such as the following:

  • Viruses.
  • Malware.
  • Trojan horses.
  • Other forms of email corruption.

Hackers use these tools to gain access to personal and business information. An email may seem harmless, but once opened, it can attach any number of bugs to your computer, giving another person access. While anti-virus programs are useful in cutting down on this, hackers can get around these programs.

It's not just viruses you have to worry about, though. Scammers have popped up everywhere, using email to contact people. Some are more commonly known, such as the prince ready to leave you his fortune if you provide him with your banking information. However, some are less obvious and can come in the form of a profitable business transaction or a job offer that sounds promising. Because you are used to sharing information in business settings that you might not share otherwise, a well-created scam can put you in danger.

Email Can Be a Time-Thief

It is not just the dangers of information theft that you must look out for. Email can quickly become a time-thief as well. For most people, apps on their computers allow for quick access to emails, including receiving notifications when new emails arrive. While this can be helpful, these notifications can give the illusion that an incoming email is more important than it is.

While multi-tasking sounds like a great approach, you can lose up to 15 minutes of productive work every time you switch between tasks. If you stop mid-project to check emails, you have lost momentum that you will have to gain back to continue the project later. Quite often, these incoming emails can be saved for later, but the notifications make many people feel compelled to check them immediately.

Online Communication and False Bravado

When you communicate with someone one-on-one, there is an accepted etiquette to how you conduct yourself. With the person right there, you are more aware that you are speaking to another person, and usually will be more courteous. This is not always the case with email. Email makes it easier to forget you are talking to another person and can lead to breaches of etiquette.

While it would seem email would give you more time to think about your words, this is not always the case. Because the person is not directly before you, it is easier to be aggressive in your initial communication or in response to something you didn't like. A scathing remark, once you hit send, is on record forever and can reflect poorly on you and your company. The seeming anonymity surrounding online communication makes it easier to fall into these etiquette traps.

Nuances of Communication Lost

When speaking to someone in person, you can more easily relate your meaning through non-verbal cues. These cues include the following:

  • Facial expressions.
  • Tone of voice.
  • Gestures.
  • Body stance.

These helpful communication tools are lost when using email. Your intent is harder to relate through email. You also miss the chance to pick up on these cues from your listener, increasing the possibility of miscommunication.

With email, it becomes more important to carefully choose words, and even this does not always protect against misunderstandings. Some people have taken to using emojis to cut down on this, but emojis can't always make the message clearer, and in some instances may count against you with people who don't think emojis are appropriate in business communication.

If you have questions about using email in business communication, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.