What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Memo?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 25, 2020 12:11:21 PM ET

Advantages of communicating by means of a memo include the presumption of privacy if needed, the ability to craft a precise message and the permanence of the communication for later reference. The disadvantages of using memos include the one-way nature of the communication and the brevity of the form, which makes it difficult to communicate regarding complex topics. In addition, the formal tone of memos sometimes hinders sensitive communication.

Memos are useful for brief and impersonal communication. They can be a very efficient form of communication within a workplace if they are kept focused and to the point. While they do not work well for communicating sensitive or difficult topics, memos do have the advantage of providing a written record about such topics in case there are later disputes regarding who said what.

Memos are less useful when trying to communicate complicated topics or to discuss several topics at once. They do not work well as a means of sending bad news or disciplining employees. Employees who receive memos can also feel less valued because they did not receive the information in person. In addition, when memos are used, there is no real opportunity for recipients to ask questions or discuss the topic of the memo, so return communication is likely to be minimized.