In the course of your work, you will have to communicate via electronic mail (email). In doing so, please adhere to the following guidelines.
Privacy: The email system and all content therein are property of the Company. Ownership includes but is not limited to work correspondence, flirty notes to your boyfriend, messages to girlfriends about the shortcomings of your boyfriend, and missives to coworkers concerning your supervisor's intelligence.
Internal spamming: Please use group lists judiciously. Senior management does not wish to be solicited again for that '86 TransAm you've had for sale since last spring. And companywide pitches for your daughter's Girl Scout cookies will be met with harsh disciplinary action.
Style: Communications to underlings should be brief, improperly capitalized, and misspelled to indicate a supervisor's chronic lack of time and attention. Emails to higher-ups should be sycophantic in tone and grammatically immaculate; the occasional use of exclamation points is highly recommended! (The use of sideways smiley faces, however, is not.)
Strategic deletion: The Company encourages the destruction of "unnecessary" documents on a timely, regular basis. Supervisors may occasionally remind employees of the urgent advisability of such action; such reminders should, in turn, be immediately destroyed as well. (In general, you should refrain from putting in an email anything you would not want Elliot Spitzer to read over his tuna fish sandwich.)
Signature files: The following are not allowed in so-called sig files appended to email text: rock music lyrics; quotes from Karl Marx, Ziggy, or Dr. Seuss; or Web addresses for your eBay auctions.
A version of this article appeared in the Table of Contents - April 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.