- since 1996

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email usage in the workplaceIntroduction: we have all become 'anoraks'

In the Internet world e-mail can be considered one of the oldest web-related applications together with the late Gopher and newsnet. But e-mail per se already existed in pre-Internet era. As far as I am concerned, I have been a user and observer of e-mail usage since its inception in the late 1980's when I was working for one of the leading IT providers of that time. That IT provider made the decision to extend the usage of e-mail (then in proprietary format) to the entirety of the company's users (i.e. 125,000 users across 35 countries but sadly enough far fewer today). The main issue with electronic mail at the time was about the requirement to make all employees including managers actually use it, the latter being rather reluctant. Indeed, many of them had difficulties coming to terms with the fact that their status was no hindrance to using the tool by themselves (many couldn't associate typing with manager status, at the time it used to be secretarial work only). We were number 3 in the IT world at the time, but it didn't make any difference in fact, strangely enough. All this to show our younger readers how far we've travelled in terms of IT usage since such prehistoric times.

note: this piece was written in 2007 and may refer to a few outdated online services

We have all grown used to e-mail. It's part of our daily lives. Many of us are using it on the go, in transport, anywhere, and at anytime. I have even known people in Canada who were using e-mail on their blackberries while brushing their teeth! But does this mean that we are using it properly? In this article I will provide insight into what I consider are worst e-mail practices and I will recommend strategies which can help you improve the way you work as well as your efficiency.


A little less than 10 years after, the Internet revolution was making IT a cornerstone of work efficiency not only in businesses, but also schools, not to name the entertainment revolution in the home. In business, it has now virtually become impossible to name any profession not resorting to IT for their normal day to day operations. Luddites are now few and far between. To an extent, we have all become nerds. So much so that IT has now become just one more of our working tools, just like pen and paper, the mobile phone and other tools, just an ordinary tool, and no longer a subject for nerds/anoraks to discuss amongst themselves using incomprehensible three letter acronyms.

However, despite the fact that IT has become ubiquitous, and even in spite of the Internet in particular, can we venture to say that we are all using it properly? In fact, there are many signs showing us that we are not. E-mail usage (be it in the business world or even on the open Internet) is very often inadequate, and can even be the source of conflicts in more in many ways.

Besides, e-mail usage has to face up to new and increasingly worrying problems: exponential rise of spamming, e-mail overflow, e-mail addiction through devices like blackberry and other mobile Internet devices, not to name viruses. What I'm proposing here is an analysis of e-mail usage, its good and bad practices, and the strategies that are required in order to protect oneself from the side-effects of bad e-mail usage, and also more positively, positive strategies for better using this tool.



part one

part two

part three

part four

part five

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