Tips for teleworkers: How to write better e-mail messages

Telework gives e-mail a new importance

A federal manager’s ability to write clear and concise e-mail messages takes on a new level of importance when he or she chooses to telework. In most instances, managers will rely on e-mail to convey the bulk of information to their employees, which leaves little room for messages that are confusing, unfocused or, worse, offensive.

The following tips — courtesy of the Corporate Executive Board — will help make sure your communications are professional whether you work in or outside the office.

1. Compose a subject line that conveys the content and urgency of your message. Examples include “Action Required: Project Plans” and “Request for a Decision: Executive Committee Meeting.”

2. In replying to or forwarding a message, change the subject line to reflect a changed subject, if appropriate.

3 .Be concise in your responses, though not unnecessarily brief. Respond with sufficient information for the recipient to understand you.

4. Focus on only one topic in each message. Keep messages clear, brief, and easy to file and retrieve.

5. Be professional. Even though e-mail is relatively informal, it still requires thought and organization. Ask yourself: What do I want to say? What do I intend the message to accomplish? What action or reaction do I want?

6. Avoid sending too many for-your-information messages that require no action on the part of the recipient.

7. Follow any important message that might evoke emotion or misunderstanding with a telephone call. You might not be fully aware of the impact of the message unless you speak with and listen to the recipients.

8. Don’t shout. Be mindful that your readers might feel they are being yelled at if you send a message typed in all capital letters.

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