We will look at how the Internet has changed overall patterns of business communications, but what about the practical realities for employees? Many of the issues involve e-mail. What is the main sort of problems that arise which need to be managed?
Guy Galboiz, a technology CEO as well as internet expert, outlines implications of using emails.
First, the issue of legal liability which in several high-profile cases, employees have criticized competitors or made unrealistic comments about their performance in e-mails which have later been forwarded outside the company. When the competitors have found out they have successfully sued other companies for hundreds of thousands of dollars. When companies send out commercial e-mails, they are subject to data protection law and they must follow guidelines.
Second, there are the resourcing implications. Search the BBC News site on e-mail overload and you will see the extent of the problem. It is now very common for employees to receive and send hundreds of e-mails per week. A worker may spend hours each day just answering e-mails. It seems that the ease and lower cost of communicating electronically has led to more messages being transmitted, many of which are unnecessary news circulated around everyone in the company, or alternatively, employees spending time socializing on the company’s time. The growth of SPAM or unsolicited commercial e-mail, which we will look at in the next section, also increases the amount of time needed to manage e-mail. With millions of messages, many with multimedia components, needing to be held on companies’ servers the hardware resources needed have also increased.
Third, there are the privacy implications. Companies may monitor their employees e-mail. Is this a breach of trust, or is its legitimate analysis to ensure that employees spend time on company business and sensitive information does not leave the company?
Finally, there is the problem of flame mails or flaming spirals where a manager may send an abusive e-mail, saying things which they would not dare say face-to-face rather than confronting a colleague face-to-face. Naturally an abusive e-mail is often followed by an abusive response and the situation deteriorates as the parties become further apart.