Techiquette: How to stay polite when dealing with technology in the workplace

| March 9, 2017

Employees who wouldn’t use a certain tone of voice with a supervisor often don’t think twice about sending a snarky email, initiating a Facebook chat with a colleague, screaming on a cell phone, or over sharing personal photos online. And we have the increase of technology in the workplace to thank.

As business shifts overseas, and more and more workers take advantage of work-from-home arrangements, the rules of the workplace web experience are changing, and often affect workers’ behavior on the job as well. As The Independent reports, a recent recent study conducted by Robert Half Technology discovered that 64 percent of surveyed CIOs attributed the increased use of mobile devices (including cell phones and tablets) to a significant increase in breaches of workplace etiquette — and that percentage is up from the last study’s 51 percent, three years ago.

technology in the workplace

Long gone are the days when land lines were the only technological distraction office workers had to contend with. From Seattle Municipal Archives.

Washington’s The Protocol School established “Bring Your Manners to Work Day” on the first Friday of September to serve as a reminder of the importance of being polite in the workplace — both online and off the web. The Protocol School’s rules — as well as some of our own — include the following:

  • Don’t scream into your mobile phone. The Independent reports that cell phone talkers “tend to speak three times louder” when talking on a mobile phone than talking in person.
  • Check your space while you’re on the phone. The School recommends a distance of 10 feet away from anyone on the phone, to give them privacy.

    Refrain from wearing your sweats when Skyping the office from home. From Nick Thompson.

    Refrain from wearing your sweats when Skyping the office from home. From Nick Thompson.

  • Attending a meeting or business lunch? Leave your phone in your bag, and turn off the volume or leave it on vibrate.
  • Always look the part. Just because you can wear whatever you’d prefer to while at home doesn’t mean those duds transition into workplace wear. Even if you’re on a Skype call with colleagues from home, do your best to look just as presentable as you would in the office. People do notice.
  • Don’t over-share information online that you wouldn’t be comfortable discussing in person.
  • Don’t visit any websites from your workplace computer, cell phone, or tablet that you wouldn’t be comfortable accounting for.
  • Get into the habit of re-reading all forwarded emails prior to forwarding them or sharing them with others.
  • Avoid using too many abbreviations in work-centered email. Forgo “OMG” and similar abbreviations altogether. At best, it appears childish, and at worse, you may offend someone.

Other common courtesies that The Protocol School reminds employees and employers alike to follow include the following:

  • Keep your work space clean — as well as common spaces, such as the copier or kitchen.
  • Arrive on time — or early — for any meals, appointments, meetings, and conference calls. And yes, even virtual appointments, such as Skype calls, count.
  • Refrain from gossiping about others or discussing your personal life in depth with colleagues or, even worse, your employer. Anything you say may be used against you.
  • And, lastly and perhaps most importantly: “Don’t sink to someone else’s standards. Just because coworkers behave badly is not a reason for you to follow suit,” recommends the School. “Always keep your poise and do the right thing, even if you’re doing it alone. It matters and will be noticed.”

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Category: Office courtesy

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