Business guy is sending the emails with laptop at work space.

Should you use AI to write work emails?

New research from the University of Florida finds that AI-generated business email communications are effective and help professionals convey professionalism and confidence in their communications.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – As the most popular form of business communications, it may come as no surprise that the average office worker receives about 121 emails per day. With up to 31,000 emails landing in an employee’s inbox per year, identifying an effective system for managing email responses is critical to workplace productivity.

AI-generated messages could be part of the solution, according to new research from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. In a study of almost 900 professionals, researchers found that AI-generated business messages were perceived as achieving the writer’s goals as well as professional, effective, confident, and direct, all of which are critical aspects of efficient workplace writing.

Anthony Coman

Anthony Coman

“Combined with other research, our findings demonstrate that AI-generated writing is becoming accepted and even mainstream in business communication,” said Anthony Coman, one of the study’s authors and professional writing expert. “Our findings also suggest that professionals who use AI frequently are more likely to view AI-assisted writing positively.”

In the study, Coman and his co-author Peter Cardon of the USC Marshall School of Business generated three common email messages that require emotional intelligence that someone might send in the workplace – a correction message, a congratulatory message and an apology. Two different AI tools were used to generate these messages including ChatGPT and Google’s Help Me Write. 

When professionals weren’t told that the messages were written with AI, they perceived each as positive. When professionals were told that the messages were AI-generated, each message created with ChatGPT and one of the Google messages was perceived as less sincere and caring. Interestingly, while professionals noted less sincerity and caring in the messages known to have been written with AI, they were still willing to send AI-generated workplace messages.

“Even with diminished perceptions of sincerity and caring, working professionals are still likely to use AI-generated messages, viewing them as efficient, albeit slightly less personal, communication tools in various scenarios,” Coman said.

Coman notes that an important aspect of this research professionals should consider when generating AI messages is that different tools are not equally useful for workplace writing.

“People felt differently about the messages depending on which AI tool was used and in which context,” he explained. “This emphasizes the importance of AI literacy and choosing the right tools for the right task. In a working context, knowing your purpose, audience, and best practices remain vital, but our research shows AI could be an excellent assistant for workplace writing.”

The complete research, “Perceptions of Professionalism and Authenticity in AI-Assisted Writing,” is published in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly.