Always remember that email is a communication tool, not a filing system
* It can be copied and forwarded by anyone it is sent to.
* This includes attachments, so only include them where necessary. Far better to email a link to the file in your OneDrive using appropriate security settings.
Be aware of data protection issues when copying or forwarding emails
* Ask yourself if you need to include everyone. Are you asking them to take action, or just giving them a record of action you’ve taken? Only expect an action from people in the To field, not Cc'ed.
* Double check the information within the email chain. There could be personal or private information held right at the bottom. Delete it, or start a new email if there is information you should not be sharing.
* If you are emailing multiple recipients and including external, personal or private email addresses, consider using the blind copy function. This means that the recipients don’t see everyone else’s personal data, nor their responses, even if someone inadvertently replies to all.
* If you are sending personal or sensitive information, via email, you need to take extra care as email is transmitted over the internet in clear text, so it could be read by a third party or your email could be shared by the intended recipient.
Ask yourself ‘what do I want my email to achieve?’
* It should have a clear message – need-to-know information, or a clear call to action. Lots of different subjects require separate emails, or even better a phone call, Skype or face to face meeting.
* Don’t expect an instant response. If it’s urgent you need to phone, Skype or visit in person.
How might your email be received?
*Make sure that the subject line is concise and makes sense to the reader. Good subject lines help us to manage our Inboxes.
* Before you press send, check that your message is clear, spelling and grammar are correct and tone is appropriate. Email is not great with emotion or humour so avoid sarcasm or innuendo. And don’t send an email when you’re angry. Save it as a draft for later.
* DON’T USE CAPITAL LETTERS - PEOPLE WILL THINK YOU ARE SHOUTING! And keep exclamation marks to a minimum too!!!
* If you send emails out of normal office hours, then do not expect a response until at least the next working day.
* Only flag a message as urgent or of high importance if it really is.
* Important: Emails should never be abusive or defamatory.
When replying to an email…
* Only use ‘reply all’ if everyone on the list needs to see your response. Using ‘reply all’ clogs up everyone’s inbox.
* If your response is long or complex, why not reply by phone or Skype meeting?
* If you start a new conversation, start a new email. Don't just add to an existing email thread.
Checking your inbox
* When emails negatively affect your day-to-day work, try checking them only at set times of the day. If it’s urgent, the sender can always contact you by phone or Skype.
* Warn people if you will not be able to respond to their emails in a reasonable time. Add an out of office message to say when you think you will be back (holiday, sickness, etc.).
* If you’re upset or offended by an email, always give the sender the benefit of the doubt. Email gives no clues like facial expression or tone of voice, so can be easily misunderstood. Deal with the message the email contains, and save your emotional response for a face-to-face meeting.
By following these suggestions, you can contribute to a more efficient and better way of working for yourself, students and staff.