Email etiquette you must use during the COVID-19 pandemic

A few years back there were a lot of cranky articles about how ‘Hope you’re well,’ in the intro of your email was not just a grating greeting, it also made people tune you out immediately.

My, how times have changed.

In the era of Covid-19 taking over nearly every conversation, wishing someone well shows actual caring, instead of simply launching into the business of the day. And while we’re all finding new ways to connect, we’re also struggling to find new ways to interact, and that includes the way you start and end your emails to colleagues, clients, or your boss.

Wishing someone well is well, really nice

“While it may seem fairly obvious, it’s important to start emails throughout this time by wishing the person on the receiving end well,” said William Rose, Chief Marketing Officer at Harqen. “We’re all living in an unprecedented and scary time, so showing your concern for others is undoubtedly the right thing to do.”

Change your greeting as needed

Freelance writer and brand specialist Jennifer Wood recently tweeted that she switched her email signature from ‘be well’ to ‘stay well.’ In a follow-up phone conversation, Wood explained that “while in this climate it can come across, as forward-facing trying to be upbeat. It can also be draining. “There’s so much coming at me from companies–we’re all in this together– that it just started to sound hollow.” Wood explained that her father is an organic cattle farmer in rural North Carolina. “He said to stay well on the phone the other night. And it felt comforting and warm and calm. I don’t know why, but it just felt different.” For Wood at least, “Right here right now, that felt better.”

She explained that if we’re communicating, then you’re okay. So, wishing someone well no longer is something casual, it’s a genuine wish that they’re well when so many are not.

Caring is a part of doing business these days

Rose elaborated by saying “Even if you don’t know the person well, an introduction with a simple, “Hope you’re well” or “Hope you’re staying safe” would be considered proper etiquette throughout this time. Humans are constantly trying to relate to one another and seek that shared connection, so in times of crisis, recognizing that what’s going on is happening to everyone lessens that sense of isolation and loneliness.”

Get to the point

And if you’re being more cognizant of the stress, we’re all experiencing, you can craft your correspondence accordingly as well. Rose said that now more than ever, you should “keep correspondence clear and concise.” Rose explains that “It’s safe to say everyone has a lot going on – from managing work, kids, health and more – all from home. That’s why it’s important to keep the point of your email as concise as possible.” To that end, if you’re asking something of someone, make sure it can be seen in the upfront of your email.” Otherwise, Rose explains that you run the risk of the recipient skipping over an important email because their attention was brought elsewhere.”

While you’re at it, pay more attention to your subject line. “It’s also wise to ensure your subject line captures the ask of your note,” Rose said. “Consider tailoring subject lines based upon who you are emailing to increase your open rate.”

Be careful with humor

While humor can often help in tense situations, at times like this it’s wiser to err on the side of caution. Unless you know someone really well, try not to drop in any references to their mental state, even if it’s done gently and with intended humor. We’ll all extra fragile right now, so don’t drop in any sarcasm or words that can be misconstrued until you’ve checked in with the recipient.

And while you’re at it, stay well.