Office Design

10 Pieces of Tech Etiquette for Today’s Office Environment

David Spence
October 31st, 2013

Tech-Related Manners for the 21st Century Office

today's office environmentAn office’s environment is made of two main things: the design of the office, and the staff’s behavior toward each other.  Most workers are probably likely familiar with the usual office rules: Seek a private place for long phone calls, clean up after yourself in the break room, don’t leave food in the fridge too long, etc.  Given the prominence of technology in today’s workplace, though, there’s a lot of room to make tech-related social gaffes, too. Based off of Robert Half’s guide for etiquette in the digital age, here’s a  list of tips that all office workers should keep in mind.

1. Don’t be an anonymous texter

You may have a co-worker’s number in your phone, but that doesn’t mean they have yours in theirs. Especially if you’re contacting someone you don’t speak with via phone very often, identify yourself when you send a text. They may not respond to your message, if they don’t know who it’s from.

2. Avoid heavy text speak

Do you know what IIRC means? What about AFAIK? If you do, congratulations on knowing your text-speak abbreviations (they stand for “If I recall correctly” and “As far as I know,” in case you’re wondering). Some people may not be as savvy when it comes to text lingo, however, so avoid using it in your messages.

3. Test everything before a video conference

If you’re teleconferencing using technology you haven’t used before, test out the camera and microphone before the event begins. Otherwise, you’ll come across as unprofessional when others can’t see or hear you properly. Plus, you may lose precious time to fixing the problem, instead of discussing the business at hand.

4. Remember local time zones

Speaking of teleconferencing, respect other attendees’ time and pay attention to their time zones. Aim to pick an hour that’s convenient for them—i.e. not one that’s too early or late, or one that will overlap with their lunch.

5. Don’t substitute IMs for conversation

Instant messaging can be convenient, but it can’t replace face-to-face interactions. If you have an important question for your coworker, speak with them directly. It will be a faster, more efficient way to get your answer.

6. Know when to turn off your IMs

Be sure to turn of your instant messenger before giving a presentation. It can be a distraction for others, and depending on the content, a potential embarrassment for you.

7. Use e-mail for the good, not the bad

Updates, announcements, and good news are all fitting uses for email. Criticism, arguments, and bad news are not. Save these sensitive topics for an in-person discussion, where you can address the other person’s questions and concerns right away.

8. Email selectively

Only send email to people who actually need to read it—do you really need to reply to all? On a related note, send an email only when it’s actually needed. Sending out a mass of unnecessary messages increases their chances of being ignored.

9. Turn off your phone during meetings

Don’t keep your phone on during a meeting, so that you can give the proceedings your full attention. This will also show your coworkers your respect, since a vibrating phone may not only distract you, but other staff members, too.

10. Avoid unnecessary phone calls

A co-worker may give you their cell phone number to use in case of emergencies. So before you hit the “Call” button, think about whether your situation is a pressing issue for them, or just for you. As the Robert Half guide advises, “Distinguish between 911 and 411.”

These tips just scratch the surface. What other tech-related rules do you think all offices should follow?

photo credit: Jhaymesisviphotography via photopin cc