University of Wisconsin–Madison

How should I communicate?

Email

  • More formal need
  • Clear documentation trail and need to archive
  • Lengthy discussions, with lots of details
  • When you want privacy
  • When you want the recipient to have time to reflect and respond thoughtfully
  • More important information that could be critical or referenced later
  • When specific instructions need to be followed
  • When someone external to the team needs to be included
  • When sending files
  • First time contacting someone

Chat

  • Less formal need
  • Concise information
  • Quick questions that need a fast response and/or are simple
  • Group brainstorms
  • Looking for real time collaboration
  • Something funny (create a separate chat channel for this where people can turn notifications on/off)
  • Thematic topics that are on-going over long periods of time (separate chat channels for each topic)

Virtual Meeting/Call

  • To gauge reactions via tone and body cues
  • Heavy, sensitive issues
  • Complicated topics when people are likely to get confused
  • When email and chat have failed to lead to a clear resolution