I. Introduction (Hanah)

Technology has revolutionized communication in the workplace. The computer has become the foundation and the median for how technology has transformed the means by which people communicate in the workplace. The way one's employer chooses to communicate with his/her employees and the operations of daily procedures are illustrating the recent implementations of electronic communication altering every aspect of the workplace.

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of Communication is-" A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior to reach a common understanding" The key words in the definition is that the information communicated must be understood.

With the rapid advancement of the utilization of technology in the workplace, it is vital that organizations use the appropriate method to communicate to increase the success of the organization.

II. Email (Yasemin and Kurt)

Eighty percent of business communication is through e-mail, so it is important to learn as much as possible about e-mail so that we can use it to our best advantage (Davis, 2009, p.73).

A. Brief History of E-mail (Kurt)

Email, like other innovations that have occurred over the last century, was created long before the general public and commercial enterprise adopted it. Ray Tomlinson is credited with sending the first email in 1971. ("History of Business Email") Email in its original form was a very primitive version of what the business world uses today. Email was first used by scientist and researchers to transmit data back and forth across large distances so that teams of scientist could work together across the globe. The form was DOS and consisted of binary numbers that needed to be decoded. Because the use of email was so rigorous it prevented its wide use in the business world. Over time with the development of computer processing capabilities and eventually the internet the use of email became a much more attractive communication tool for the business world and would change the world of business forever.

Email began to be adopted by the business community in the early 1980's with IBM setting up its own intranet.
("History of Business Email") This allowed for communication to be done internally while employees were able to log in to the main frame in the same geographic location. While this allowed for time to be saved it still place a location restriction on the project. As the development of the personal computer increased the number of users and the mobility of the company's workforce, it then moved into usage of a local area networks (LAN) to allow for the communication to be accessed from other places with in a small area such as a office campus. Then companies began to form wide area networks (WAN), which could be accessed from virtually anywhere a secure connection could be made. More and more companies began to see the increased capabilities of the their workforce with the increased volume of information that email provided and now virtually all commerce uses email in some form of its operations.

The image below shows the path of a typical email message. ("Email")
B. Pros of E-mail (Kurt)
Email is credited as the leading form of communication coming out of the the "e-revolution." Email is a great technology for communicating in commerce because it is very inexpensive, efficient and is still developing into richer formats.

All businesses operate in a world where they have to choose from scarce resources. The cost of email compared to it's efficiency is why email has been so widely adopted by the business world. Today a company can set up its own server to handle its email messaging or choose from one of countless email services provided by companies such as Yahoo, Google and Microsoft that all provide email servicing for free. Before the adoption of email all business was done either face to face or over the phone. This not only took up valuable time but also came at a high cost for the phone service. Another problem is that in order to have this communication you need both parties to be free to engage in the conversation. With email a message can be sent after the sender composes it but the receiver can read or decode the message when he or she has time. This allows for communication to occur more fluidly and freely.

Email is was one most credited vehicles for the globalization of the worlds economies. With the ability to send information anywhere on the planet virtually instantly the speed of business was changed forever. An employee in the United States could send a message to a colleague in Japan and receive a reply with in minutes with most of that time spent on composing the reply rather that the delivery of the message.

C. Cons of Email (Yasemin)

Because e-mail lacks facial expressions and other verbal cues, it is very easy for e-mails to be misinterpreted. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts in the long run.

E-mail loses its efficiency when it involves back and forth discussion. Sometimes it may be better to use another form of communication such as face to face interaction, instant messaging, or telephone calls (Moore, 2008, p.8).

An example of inefficient e-mail communication use is shown below:
E-mail #1 (from Susan to Veronica)
What do you think of the ABC Company as a provider of the computer training we need?
E-mail #2 (from Veronica to Susan)
I don't know much about them. What other like companies have they helped with this type of training?
E-mail #3 (from Susan to Veronica)
I don't know. I'll find out. Do you know anything about their curriculum or trainers?
E-mail #4 (from Veronica to Susan)
I know a little bit about their approach to adult learning, and I don't know anything about their trainers, And that's critical because the trainer will make or break even the best curriculum, especially in a subject like this, where it's technical, hands-on, and potentially tedious if not presented well.

The example e-mails above were quoted directly from “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: E-mail Communication,” written by Ronnie Moore.

Privacy is a main concern when communicating via e-mail in the workplace. Mangers have a right to view e-mails that are sent from work e-mails, and this could result in termination of employment. It is important to make sure e-mails are appropriate. Avoid writing jokes or racist or sexist comments (Moore, 2008, p.9).

Another problem with e-mail communication is technology failure. When the internet servers are not working, or maintenance is being performed, it is difficult to keep businesses running if they solely communicate via e-mail.

Many times, employees get bombarded with hundreds or even thousands of e-mails. It may be difficult to prioritize which e-mails should be read first. Some businesspeople look at the subject lines to decide which e-mails they will read and respond to first.

D. Statistics on E-mail Misuse (Yasemin)

1. Miscommunication and E-mail

There are many causes of miscommunication in the workplace. Language is a major cause for miscommunication. Simply using the wrong pronoun in a sentence may confuse the receiver as to whom the sender is New_Picture_(1).pngreferring to in the message (Davis, 2009, p.75). Cultural differences may also cause misunderstandings through online communication. For example, some cultures may take humor and sarcasm offensively. It is important to request clarifications if there is a misunderstanding to prevent further issues. “Spamming (advertising), dissing (speaking ill of someone), flaming (insulting) or shouting (all capital letters) may be unacceptable in some cultural contexts” (Davis, 2009, p.77). Fast paced cultures expect responses to e-mails quickly, whereas other cultures make take their time to respond because they do not understand the urgency (Davis, 2009, p.78). “Even when both parties to the email message are communicating in a common language, grammatical errors, word order or syntax, the use of jargon, or errors in punctuation and spelling may cause messages to be misinterpreted” (Davis, 2009, p.80). “When individuals fail to communicate effectively and information is incorrect, delayed, or misinterpreted, work delays or work stoppages naturally follow. In one study, e-mail miscommunication was shown to put group performance more at risk than groups using face-to-face communication” (Davis, 2009, p.81).

2. Dealing with Miscommunication

Communication problems through e-mail may arise, so it is important to understand various techniques to dealing with these issues. Some businesses will use face-to-face meetings or another communication media such as Skype to resolve the communication issues. Another way businesses alleviate problems is by asking for clarifications and trying to communicate more frequently (Davis, 2009, p.83). Sometimes none of these approaches will work, so businesses will try to find another person to contact about the information requested or they will simply use the same data in the past to make their decisions (Davis, 2009, p.83).

3. E-mail and Termination of Employment

E-mail is an efficient tool for communication in the workplace, but it must be used with caution. According to the Journal of Accountancy, three out of ten employers fired their employees for e-mail misuse (2008, p.26).

The pie chart below shows the top reasons employees were fired because of e-mail misuse in the workplace.

The content of the above pie chart came from the Journal of Accountancy.

Most employers monitored e-mail usage through technology, while about 40% of employers hiredNew_Picture.png an individual to read the e-mails sent (Journal of Accountancy, 2008, p.26).

Computer monitoring by employers includes:
  • Tracking content, keystrokes, and time spent at the keyboard (45%)
  • Reviewing computer files (43%)
  • Monitoring external blogs to see what is being written about the company (12%)
  • Monitoring social networking sites (10%)

E. E-mail Etiquette (Yasemin)

  • When writing a business e-mail, it is important to have a proper subject line. This will help the recipient prioritize the order in which he or she will read and respond to e-mails. Another tip is to change the subject line when there is a back and forth communication between two people.
  • It is also important to have a salutation when starting an e-mail. An example of a salutation would be “Dear Ms. Smith.” After many e-mails have been sent, it is okay to leave out the salutation.
  • Proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling must be used in e-mail messages. A message in caps lock is inappropriate for business e-mails and is often associated with yelling or screaming. If a particular sentence of the message is important consider bolding it instead.
  • Try to be concise. Wordy e-mails waste time and are considered unprofessional. Read the e-mail several times before it is sent to check for excessive wording. Try rephrasing sentences to make them more concise.
  • Avoid jokes in e-mails. They can be taken the wrong way and cause unnecessary conflict.
  • Avoid using emoticons. They are unprofessional and should not be used in the workplace.
  • Try to respond to e-mails within a reasonable time frame.
  • Delete older messages when responding to an e-mail. This will eliminate clutter and keep the e-mail looking professional.
  • Explain the attachments that are being sent in an e-mail. This will keep the recipient worry free about receiving viruses.
  • Close your e-mail by thanking the recipient for his or her time. An example of a proper closing would be “Best regards.” (Notice that the r in regards is lower case.)
  • Place your contact information at the bottom of the e-mail. This will help others contact you in other ways if needed, and it also establishes your credibility.
The main ideas of the bullets above came from the Purdue OWL website.

F. Tips to Managers (Yasemin)

  1. Make sure all employees have proper training regarding e-mail usage in the workplace, such as content, tone, style, grammar, and punctuation. Employees can attend workshops to receive adequate training. This will help sustain good business relationships and maintain productivity.
  2. Inform and compose a contract in which employees understand proper use and misuse of e-mail and consequences of inappropriate actions. Employers should explicitly state that e-mail usage at work is not private to protect business information and avoid lawsuits.

IV. Instant Messaging use in the workplace (Safoora)

Instant messaging, shorthand IM, is a developed communications service that enables the exchange of messages in text through Web-based sites or downloadable software applications in real-time.
This tech-savvy business tool has invaded and changed the workplace. Ever since the 1990s, employees started sneaking IM in to the office, but today, more and more companies are endorsing IM (Mamberto, 2007).
Casual and more prompt than email, IM fosters broader collaboration among coworkers and colleagues in businesses all over the world.

A. Brief History and Overview

1. History of Instant Messaging

The system of instant messaging has been developed and innovated over the span of three decades. Following the development of the internet in the 1950s, peer-to-peer protocols (P2P) were developed in the 1960s. This computing and networking system allowed users to send and receive private messages from other clients that logged in to the same computer (Hoyos). Later in 1982, a company named Quantum Computer Services operated an online service called Quantum Link, which created the first bare-bones version of instant messaging, which they called “On-Line Messages” (Hoyos). These messages could only be sent between their current clients.

In 1991, Quantum Link changed its name to America Online (AOL). Six years later, AOL was hailed as the goliath of Internet Service Providers and had more than 30 million subscribers in several continents (Holahan, 2006). By then, many new IM services,such as ICQ, were already in development. AOL had developed what would lead to an entire new era of IM, AOL Instant Messaging (AIM).

  • AIM débuted in 1997
  • Yahoo launched its own Yahoo! Messenger in 1998.
  • MSN in debuted 1999, and a host of others throughout the 2000s.
  • Google Talk was released in 2005.

2. General Functions of IM

The capabilities of instant messaging have greatly expanded over the years, and new innovations are still on the rise. IM has even worked its way into mobile communication. Many cellphones and smartphones now offer downloadable versions of IM services.

The most common features that most IM services provide include:
  • Group chat, which allows users to chat with multiple persons
  • Reception of email notifications
  • Photo sharing
  • File-sharing
  • Several personalization options, such as customizable profile icons, screen interfaces, emoticon sets, status updates, and greetings.
  • Importation of contacts
  • Telephone functions
  • Video chat functions
  • Radio listening
  • Archiving of IM conversation logs
  • Connection to Facebook chat

Instant messaging technology is constantly changing. Based on Tyson and Cooper’s collaborative findings, new features and innovations are constantly rolling out for several IM providers:
  • Google Talk: users can drag files, folders, and photos directly onto the chat window, which show up instantly in their friend's chat window.
  • Windows Live Messenger: allows instant-messaging between Xbox 360 gamers.
  • Pidgin: users can IM, transfer files and share photos with contacts in AIM, ICQ, IRC, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. Its "Buddy Pounce" feature sends notifications when selected contacts change their online status or send IMs.
  • Universal IM providers Meebo and eBuddy are Web-based; therefore downloading software is not required.
  • Qnext: friends can listen to each other's music files without having to download them.
  • AOL: introduced a plug-in for IM users who have WiFi capabilities—their locations are tracked using WiFi hot spots, and users can open a map to find where people on their buddy lists are.

B. How can IM be a valuable asset to a business?

Over the years, instant messaging has proven to be quite a valuable business tool. It successfully supports informal communication and is easily accessible by millions worldwide, fostering greater global collaboration.

Some of the ways IM brings convenience to the workplace include:
  1. Offers efficient, real-time communication between two or more users. In this way, IM helps all sorts and sizes of businesses all over the world considerably in carrying out tasks more proficiently. This form of communication allows people in the workplace in need of a swift response to send messages quickly and efficiently. For instance, take a larger corporation with several branches and departments. If the Operations Department had to reach an employee in another department, an IM would allow one to see the status and availability of that worker, and for that worker to instantly send a notification or request to whomever. If a person had to leave the desk, he or she could simply update his or her status as “away”, so one would not waste time reaching the person through IM at that moment. In this way, communication in the workplace through instant messaging would be more smooth and speedy.
  2. Increases productivity. Time and energy is saved at offices by helping workers receive immediate answers to questions. The whole workplace becomes more productive in conducting business once tasks can be done in a time-saving manner. Coworkers signed on to IM could readily send quick, and to-the-point messages, without going through the hassle of writing up an entire email, playing the voice-mail game, or searching for one another in person. Ideas can be exchanged right on the screen, for everyone in the chat room to see, and conversations can also be logged and saved.
  3. Minimized disruptions. A recent study by researchers at Ohio State University and University of California, Irvine found that workers who used instant messaging in the workplace reported less interruption than coworkers who did not. Their research showed that instant messaging was often used as a substitute for other, more disruptive forms of communication such as the telephone, e-mail, and face-to-face (F2F) conversations (Ohio State University, 2008). Using instant messaging can lead to more conversations online, but the conversations are kept briefer and shorter.
  4. Multitasking. Coworkers can use IM while carrying out other activities such as taking telephone calls, or processing documents and email.
  5. Less intrusiveness. Coworkers can coordinate their conversations at their own convenient times. Many are also more comfortable with this informal method of communication for simple, impromptu conversations with colleagues and prefer IM over F2F communication (Isaacs).
  6. Online monitoring. Companies retain the legal right to monitor the daily and online activities in the workplace, which includes instant messaging logs.Employers look to record important communications, control information leaks, and discourage cyber slacking (Tynan, 2004).

C. How can IM use in the workplace be counterproductive?


According to Rory Welch, CEO of ArcMail (Johns, 2011), "Instant messaging is clearly valued by businesses of all sizes today. But the proliferation of this communication medium also comes with an increased need to properly address regulatory compliance, e-discovery and liability protection issues."
  1. Compliance risks- IM may decrease productivity by being disruptive and sidetracking workers from tasks. Using IM inappropriately or accessing objectionable Web sites could expose the employer to lawsuits for fostering a hostile workplace environment (Tynan, 2004).
  2. Security risks- IM is also prone to hacking, phishing, and scams. Worms and viruses may be spread throughout a corporate network if proper precautionary measures, such as installing firewalls and following safe protocols, are not taken.
  3. Trade-secret leakage- Employees may accidentally or deliberately spill confidential corporate information.

D. IM Etiquette

As with every communication medium, good IM habits and manners should be practiced in the workplace. The following general good rules are based off the ideas of Brandon D. Hoyos:
  • Courteously ask for availability-For instance, take the question, “Hey Ann, are you busy? I have a quick question about the department’s status report.” This asks about the coworker’s status and also drops the query in the same line which saves both people time.
  • Mind your own availability status-Let coworkers now what you are up to3.png
  • Go easy on the acronyms-coworkers may not necessarily know what certain acronyms stand for, so opt for proper English.
  • Realize when mediums of communication need switching-If conversations become too prolonged and complex, a telephone conversation or F2F meeting may be more efficient. If issues are explained better in words, email would save everyone time.
  • Keep a professional screen name.
  • Keep your IM’s professional and business-friendly.
  • Remember to log off your account.

E. Tips to Managers

  1. Managers who choose to allow IM should opt for secure enterprise networks
  2. Establish and enforce guidelines about general IM usage policies.
  3. Inform employees to safeguard the company's and their own personal information.
  4. Do not click on suspicious files or attachments.
  5. Regularly scan the IM software and update filters.

V. Telephone Conversations (Ashley)

external image telephone-call-monitoring-software-800x800.jpg
Even with the dramatic rise of e-mail technology, the telephone is still a major method of communication in today’s workplace. Verbal communication is necessary when conveying emotion or feeling or evaluating the situation. The message does not need to be permanent, but it can help to get started on an idea that may change. Using telephone communication is necessary if there is a time urgency, a deadline for information, or if immediate feedback is needed.

A benefit of telephone communication is that it is easier to convey a longer message by speaking rather than an email to where the email may be too long or overwhelming for someone to read. But it may be help if you also follow up with an email after the conversation that just summarizes the topics covered during the conversation along with a plan of action. The use of the telephone provides an easy and convenient way to overcome the two principal barriers to communication: time and distance. Telephone conversations has a high information richness as compared to other forms of communication in the workplace. Whether from office to office, coast to coast, or country to country, a telephone allows for virtually instantaneous voice communication.

The benefits of telephone communication in the workplace is senders and receivers can see or hear beyond just the words that are used. In addition, receivers also can sense the sender's body language or tone of voice. Because a telephone conversation is a form of synchronous communication participants have the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. This in turn enables agreements to be reached more quickly than they could be by an exchange of letters, memos, or email. Telephone calls should also end pleasantly, focusing on agreements and on who will assume responsibility for taking appropriate action.20

VI. Video Conferencing (Mariela)

A. History of VC

Just like email and instant messaging, video conferencing has become a world wide used technology that not only gives you instant ability to communicate with a customer or another one of your locations but also gives you the ability to have a conversation face to face. Although, video conferencing is nothing out of the ordinary now a days it was anything but normal back in the mid 1900s when it was introduced. Video conferencing was introduced at the 1964 World's Fair that took place in New York. In 1970 At&t introduced the very first Picturephone but at the moment it was not something that seemed of reach and at a rate $160 a month it was too expensive for customers.15("Video conferencing history," )

In a couple of years Ericsson gives a demonstration of the first trans-Atlantic LME video telephone call. After Ericsson Network Video Protocal and Packet Video Protocol both helped with the developing of video conferencing but their use of it was for laboratory and private corporate usage. Before then, Tokyo and Osaka had established video conferencing in 1976 and in 1982 IBM Japan took video to another level and started video conferences with the U.S.15("Video conferencing history," )

In 1982 Compression Labs introduced VC to the commercial market but at a cost, $250,000 with a rate of $1,000 an hour. In 1986, PictureTel stepped into the picture and introduced a more affordable system at $80,000 with a rate of $100 per hour.15("Video conferencing history," )

In 1991, the first PC-based conference system was introduced by Pictel and the cost was dropped dramatically compared to the earlier version, it was $30 per hour, and the system itself was only $20,000 and came in black and white. Then Dartnet connected a "transcontinental IP network" in the U.S. and the U.K. and not long after free services and software became widely available for VC and most are still around at present day.15("Video conferencing history," )

In following years VC would keep evolving, thus, making changes to our business world. MAC and Windows would both give the public the ability to have VC right at home through PCs and messaging systems on the web. As the internet became more widely used around the globe so did VS, a surgery was able to take place in 2003 with the surgeon being overseas, education was transformed by offering courses through video streaming giving students more choices on courses. In 2004, a Linux-based free VC and NetMeeting-compatible was released and in April Applied Global Technologies introduced the first webcam that tracks the voice of the speaker and easier to have conversations. Later that same year WiredRed Software was the first to develop multipoint video. In 2008, under the name of Nefsis, WiredRed announced a cloud-based, online service and in 2009 incorporated a product that gave the ability to share videos and other files during a video conference.15("Video conferencing history," )

It is clear that VC has improved since 1964 and even in modern times it is still evolving and improving by the minute. Thanks to VC we are able to keep in contact by not only having conversations but by able to make eye contact almost as good as face-to-face conversations.

B. Pros

1. Able to reach other companies that may be too far to visit16(Yuan, 2008)

Traveling is expensive and sometimes it takes too long to get somewhere if you need a response right away. VC give you the opportunity to be right in your office and have the ability to talk with someone on the other side of the globe without having to sit in a plane for who knows how many hours.

2. Can have a conference with a group of people rather than one on one.16(Yuan, 2008)

If you need to speak to multiple people and do not have the time to plan a meeting and travel to where ever you need to go then with VC you can have an instant meeting and able to listen to everyone's opinion. If you try to use IM with a large crowd it will become overwhelming with all the text you need to read and people constantly sending IM's.

3. Able to see body language as well as able to hear the tone of voice.17("Video conferencing pros," )

When using email or IM it is sometimes difficult to portray your emotions because the other person is not able to see your body language or your facial expressions and this, sometimes can cause confusion. Through VC you can portray emotions and facial expressions causing no confusion and able to get your point out easier.

4. Can work on the same projects together.16(Yuan, 2008)

With busy schedules it is sometimes hard to get together and work on group projects together. VC gives everyone the ability to listen to everyone's opinions and work on the project together without having to go meet at the office.

C. Cons

1. Can be costly.16(Yuan, 2008)

VC may not be as expensive as traveling (at times) but it can be. You need internet connection and PCs, maybe even camera for the older computers. You need security for your connection and conferencing systems. If something breaks down then it needs to be fixed fast.

2. No human eye contact like in face to face.16(Yuan, 2008)

No matter what nothing can be as good as a face to face conversation. Having someone right in front of you is different than having a webcam that is conferencing live between each other. Some people prefer to have the person they are making a deal with in front of them rather than on other end of the webcam.

3. Sometimes can be delays because of service connection.17("Video conferencing pros," )

Technology is not 100% reliable at all times. If there is a black out or a strong storm and the electricity goes out then your connection will not work and you will not be able to use your equipment. Even if there is electricity your internet connection may not be working properly or it may just be having a slow connection speed day.

4. Equipment breaks down.17("Video conferencing pros," )

Things break that is reality and we are not able to do anything else but to fix it. If something happens to your equipment and you need it immediately then you need to fix it soon. Depending on the problem it may take a couple of days until your equipment is ready then you are not able to have a meeting. If your equipment is damaged permanently then you need to buy new equipment that will just cost money.

VII. Conclusion (Hanah)

Throughout the years, technology has been utilized in the workplace to enhance communication between co-workers. Communication has become the fundamental component of an effective means of contact between the various levels in an organization facilitating organizational success. Specifically for those that hold a leadership position, effective communication is vital for an organization as communication allows the manager to dictate what needs to be accomplished to his subordinates. As previously mentioned, communication paired with technology in the workplace has increased efficiency, dramatically improved quality and competence of contact between departments, and has led various organizations to success. Medians of technological communication has created an ease of presenting, sharing imperative documents, sending messages promptly to one’s targeted audience, etc. Technology has provided a wealth of opportunities and expansion in the workplace and will continue to do so in the near future so long as organizations persist in the implementation of using technology to bridge communication in the office.

VIII. References

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