A major advantage of business memos is that they are inexpensive to create. Even when business people physically print the memo, doing so usually costs the company far less than it would to halt work entirely to have a formal meeting about what the memo addresses. If business people send the memo via email, the company also is able to communicate without without having ink and paper expenses, and there is no physical disposal of the memo papers necessary for which the company could be charged.
Business people are able to produce and deliver memos unobtrusively. Even when the memo is physically printed, employees can read the memo at their leisure. This is less disruptive than other means of communication such as phone calls, instant messaging or meetings.
Delivery of memos is easy. With hard-copy memos, it takes just one person to hand the memo out to employees or put it in the employee mailbox. It usually does not take more than one business day for the memo to travel from department to department. With digital memos, businesspeople can send the memo to hundreds or even thousands of workers with a single click, getting the memo out in just seconds.
Business memos are designed to be short and to the point. Whatever is in the memo is evidence, as well. These two points encourage the writer of the memo to think critically about what he puts into the memo. By doing this, the writer gets a clear picture of the intent behind the writing and thus is better able to defend the memo’s purpose in the future.
One disadvantage of standard memos is that they are designed to contain one or two pages of information. This makes them a less-than-useful tool for communicating complex topics. Memos are also meant to focus on a single subject, so they’re not a good choice if you need to convey multiple areas of information to employees.
Once you have written a standard business memo, you must have it printed or copied for distribution to your employees. This means you’re paying for the paper on which the memo is printed and the cost of an employee’s time to copy and distribute the communication. In addition, the distribution process takes time, delaying your employees’ receipt of information. Those who don’t check their mailbox or inbox frequently may not receive your information for hours or even days after it’s distributed.
There is a formal tone associated with business memos, making them a poor choice for communicating sensitive information. If you need to discipline an employee or inform a group of workers about impending layoffs, face-to-face communication is a better choice. It allows you to incorporate nonverbal communication in your messages and to interpret the other person’s response by observing her body language. The recipients of your message may also feel more valued by the company because you took the time to talk with them in person.