Digital Communication Etiquette in the Workplace

This blog post was written by Intern Queen Campus Ambassador Hanna Handler from the University of Illinois, Urbana -- Champaign.

Congrats! You've landed your dream internship or you've been officially hired for your full-time job. The interview process may be over, but creating a solid first impression amongst future colleagues is a test in itself. Whether you find yourself running to and from desk to desk conversations, sitting in a cubicle sending emails, or chatting on the phone, proper communication etiquette goes a long way in creating and maintaining professional work relationships. Under the pressure to meet tight deadlines or get out of the office at a decent hour, many employees find themselves using email as their main form of communication. While you're logged on, keep your ideas clear and impress your peers with your digital communication expertise:

1) Be wary of your email content. Work relationships can sometimes develop into true friendships. Regardless of your friendship outside the office, when at work it is important to keep all communication professional. Avoid slang and spelling errors in emails, and be sure to re-read the messages at least twice or aloud. Furthermore, if you reference an attachment in your message, don't forget to include it! Some email providers can detect the word "attachment," and may alert you if you press "send" before actually adding a file.

2) Keep up with the same email thread when replying or following up on emails. Your manager and colleagues are bombarded by emails throughout the day and may forget what you are referencing if you create an entirely new email message. Not only can this lead to confusion and additional emails for clarification, but it creates yet another email thread for your receivers (and you!) to keep track of.

3) Dodge misinterpretation by avoiding the use of all caps. Unlike face-to-face communication, digital communication has no non-verbal cues, and typing text in all capital letters may be interpreted as yelling or frustration.

4) Find a middle ground in email updates. Many managers value when their employees update them on their progress throughout the day, but over-sharing or sending a step-by-step synopsis by the hour can become bothersome. It is helpful to update managers on your progress when you are in need of an additional task or require feedback on an ongoing project. You should also create a habit of sending a numerical list of your goals and tasks at the start of each work day.

Being communication-savvy is an essential skill in any workplace. Digital interaction occurs across all work environments and is a stepping stone for successful group work and one-on-one collaboration.

For more advice from our Campus Ambassadors and the Intern Queen herself, Lauren Berger, visit!