Email Abuse in the Workplace

Email can be abused in the workplace.
Email can be abused in the workplace. (Image: email image by Ewe Degiampietro from

Email is a crucial business tool, allowing almost instantaneous communication between colleagues and clients. It can relay important information, close deals or widen the potential client base of a company.

There are cases, however, in which email in the workplace is abused, causing loss of productivity. There are reasons why this happens, with the most common being worker frustration and boredom.


Ferris Research carried out a survey in 2007 that highlighted the use of email in business. The company estimated that 25 billion emails were sent each day in the previous year; 6 trillion business-related emails were sent that year.

When used correctly, email is an important tool in improving the reputation and profitability of the company, as well as improving colleague and client relations.

Email is a vital business tool.
Email is a vital business tool. (Image: business man image by Dmitri MIkitenko from


The primary attraction of email is that it is instantaneous. That, coupled with the fact that it is free, makes it a vitally important tool in the world of business and commerce. It allows fast and effective dialogue between colleagues and clients. For many businesses, the advent of email has allowed them to gain access to far more potential clients.

Emails are also stored electronically and--in most cases--backed up on a frequent basis. Whereas paper copies of important documents can be lost, there is always evidence of dialogue and correspondence when using email, which is available for retrieval at a later date.

Emails also reduce the amount of paper used.
Emails also reduce the amount of paper used. (Image: The paper image by Alexander Ivanov from

Forms of Email Abuse

Email in the workplace may occasionally not contain information relating to the company or company business, but can still be harmless and--in some cases--increase morale in the office. However, if many emails like this are sent, valuable time that would otherwise be spent in productive work will be wasted.

Managers should be cautious about sending personal emails to their team, to avoid sending the wrong message.

If the content of email is racist or of a sexual nature, it may cause offense to the recipients. In such cases, management should be informed immediately so preventive measures can be taken.

Offensive emails can have serious consequences.
Offensive emails can have serious consequences. (Image: sad businessman image by Dmitri MIkitenko from

Source of Email Abuse

"Harmless" emails, such as those that contain jokes, funny pictures or whimsical stories, often arise from worker boredom or frustration. If he sending of pointless emails becomes excessive, it wastes everyone's time and hurts productivity.

Offensive emails are possibly targeted at one person or a group of people who have something in common, for example the same race or sex. Motivations can include jealousy or malice.

Offensive emails can cause much upset.
Offensive emails can cause much upset. (Image: workplace image by Vitalii Gavryshenko from

How To Avoid Email Abuse

Managers can spend a lot of money in purchasing software than restricts the use of email. Many email filters will scan each message sent for inappropriate content or attachments, and "quarantine" these, meaning the intended recipient does not get the email in question. However, these filters run the risk of quarantining legitimate email.

The most effective way to avoid email misuse is to introduce a policy concerning email to the business, and educate the employees on the benefits of email and how misuse will not be tolerated.

If correct email usage is instilled into the culture of the workplace, potential problems can be quickly avoided. If a manager is informed of somebody's sending abusive emails, he must first attempt to identify the reasons for the abuse, and then proceed to take whatever action is necessary.

Correct email usage will result in a productive workplace.
Correct email usage will result in a productive workplace. (Image: successful and happy business woman image by Laser from

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