In this article, we undertake empirical research into e-mail communication in the workplace to provide organizations with practical information about how employees can effectively manage their e-mail interactions. We employ an interpretative, qualitative methodology to examine their views of e-mail. Specifically, we consider the interaction between this and traditional face-to-face (F2F) contact. Theoretical ideas are subject to empirical scrutiny from a database of 29 in-depth interviews with users. The findings suggest that as computer-mediated communication (CMC) intensifies, communication is increasingly characterized by a complex interplay between CMC and F2F, with e-mail affecting communication in positive and negative ways, and also with intended and unintended outcomes. For organizations, the key is to raise employee awareness about their e-mail communications in order to maximize effectiveness and prevent negative outcomes such as back-covering and relationship breakdown. The results inform the development of a conceptual framework for the interpretation and investigation of e-mail communications. (C) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.