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Email - a help or a hindrance at work?

Arriving, somewhat ironically perhaps,  via email Jedd Bartlett's recommendation "The Impact of E-mail Communication on Organizational Life" highlighted many of those tendencies about email that we all most likely know. These include misunderstandings, distraction, and the fact that email isn't ideal for providing social support. A must read if you use email at work.

Jedd, in his email, helpfully pulls out some key "quotes relating to the balance between information stress/interruptions, and participating in 'social support' when working from home"

"The fact that the 'how things are said part' is missing in regular e-mail communication, is not without consequences. In fact, this is likely to be a fertile ground for miscommunication and in particular not noticing that miscommunication."

"People tend to believe that their intentions are more obvious to others than they actually are"

"The benefits of e-mail, for example working together with individuals across multiple sites, are evident. However, the costs of e-mail are disproportionally loaded on the recipient who engages in continuous activity switching between e-mail and other tasks"

"The key ingredient of casual conversation 'hanging out together' is missing in e-mail communication which requires intent and planning. These reduced opportunities to give and receive support are also an issue for the increasing number of tele-workers.

"Tele-workers report social isolation, reduction in affective bonds with colleagues and lack of social support as major disadvantages of their status"

"Social support from colleagues is considered an important resource, and it has potential in buffering the undesirable effects of high job demands"

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