Remote Work Has Changed Communication
Q: Our entire company has been working remote since March 15. We have resorted mostly to texting because it is much faster and more efficient than sending an email and waiting for an answer. It allows us to get work done more quickly.
Someone complained about being texted often, so management sent an email to employees asking us to use email instead. My department has talked about ignoring the directive because texting has worked out so well. We wouldn't text people we don't regularly work with, but we think texting within a department makes sense. How should we handle it?
A: Texting is different than sending an email, and there are reasons for using both, regardless of whether you only text those in your department. The speed of texting is a plus, and so is receiving an immediate response, as long as the person receiving the text has his or her notifications turned on. Texting is perfect for questions that require a brief, yes or no response, assuming the company approves of phones being openly available to employees. But you have to consider the downsides as well.
A phone in the open is convenient, but it also poses a temptation to some who are not as honest as you. The coronavirus will end eventually, and how would you handle it if you returned to your desk after a meeting with another employee and your phone was missing? Even if you report the theft, management is not going to search the other employees to see who took your phone. This possibility means you will have to take it with you no matter where you go, and the size of your department could make a difference in whether someone steals it. This translates to a distraction, which takes away from your focus on work, not to mention the anger you would feel afterward.
Texting is commonly known for the autocorrect function, which often turns into autoerror. Sometimes, crazy and wild mistakes go unnoticed by the sender but cause the receiver to question the meaning of the message. This negates the efficiency of texting.
Email errors are due to typos and can usually be interpreted. Emails also create a permanent trail of all that has been communicated. It is easy to review previous emails in case a person forgets the information. It also provides proof as to who has made the mistake, and some mistakes can be quite serious.
Before you decide to ignore management's email notice, think about the nature of the communication you are sending. If you want to establish a timeline or an information trail, an email will be more accurate, more efficient and more useful if a problem arises.
If you are making lunch or after-work plans, of course, text the person. Seeing a wild autocorrect mistake can lead to an entertaining conversation later. But going back and forth about times and restaurants in email is both time-consuming and annoying.
Email career and life coach: Lindsey@LindseyNovak.com with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com, and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.