Email in the workplace: it is not very many years since email first appeared and became a major method of communication in our working lives.
We are now so dependent on email that we may well wonder how we managed before it came on the scene. You do not need to ignore your mailbox for very long before red email icons start blinking at you and demanding attention.
Email is also helping to change the way that we communicate with other people.
“The most surprising aspect is the extensive practice of copying people in on emails,” says Karianne Skovholt, who is a PhD scholarship holder at BI Norwegian School of Management.
Reading the fine print in others’ emails
In her PhD project, Skovholt is interested in the ways that we use email as a means of communication at work. She studied over 700 emails from a working group in an international company based in Norway over a period of five months to see how email is used in practice.
What aroused Skovholt’s interest was the extensive practice of copying in recipients in the ‘Sender’ field.
She points out that sending copies of letters so that all interested parties are kept informed is something we are used to from formal business correspondence, but now that it has become an established practice in daily email communication at work, it has acquired a completely new meaning.
Together with Professor Jan Svennevig from BI, Karianne Skovholt has published her article “Email copies in workplace interaction” in the international scientific publication Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.
We rank recipients
When we sent an email, we use the address field to rank people as primary and secondary recipients. Primary recipients are those whose addresses are shown in the ‘To’ field. They are the people for whom (ideally) we think the email’s contents have most relevance.
Secondary recipients are those in the ‘Cc’ field and for whom (ideally) we consider the email has less relevance. In practice, we receive large numbers of emails every day whose relevance to us is very obscure.
Karianne Skovholt compares email communication with that in a conversation. When we send an email to a number of different people, this opens a ‘chat room’ in which the recipients are invited either directly or indirectly to participate.
As in a conversation between two or more people, the participator roles often alternate between the speaker (the person saying the words), the addressees (the persons who are or could have been addressed by name), the participants (visible listeners whom the speaker assumes are taking part in the conversation but who are not direct addressees), and persons who overhear (listeners who are not intended to participate in the linguistic exchange).
The three functions of copying in on an email
In her study Karianne Skovholt identifies three main email functions for which copying in is used:
1) To inform and document. The most important function of copying people into an email is to provide information and keep them oriented about the progress of a project. Copying in on emails is an efficient way of sharing information. The copied in email can also serve as documentation that something has been done.
2) To invite participation and seek support in conflicts. Copying in on an email can be used indirectly to invite others to participate. Being copied in does not necessarily require an answer, but it permits the recipient to do so if they wish. A copied in email can also be used to request feedback, whether for support for an issue or praise for a task that has been done.
3) Creating visibility and positioning. Copying in on an email can also be used strategically to build networks and alliances.
Under cover of simply wishing to provide information, employees can position themselves within the organisation, and by copying in their superiors they can obtain support and exert pressure on the primary recipient.
Audun Farbrot | alfa
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology