Our technology (smartphones, tablets and laptops) has become such an integral part of our lives that we often lose perspective on how these devices can affect our behavior. Your boss, clients and colleagues may or may not tell you, but make no mistake, your behavior is under scrutiny and your livelihood is at stake.
Inappropriate smartphone or tablet use at work may also be contagious. If one person is constantly glued to his or her device, it gives others the incentive to do the same, causing a domino effect of bad technology manners. If you have ever been a customer waiting for service from someone who clearly is distracted by their cell phone, you know that it’s not okay.
Following are a few office technology etiquette tips:
- The people in front of you are always the priority. Make this your golden rule. If you interrupt a face-to-face conversation to respond to a text or take a call, you are communicating to the person you are speaking with that they are less important.
- Be respectful. We all have to take an occasional call at the office, but take your conversation to a private space, away from the hustle and bustle of the workplace common area. Your office or cubicle is a good choice, but refrain from going to your car and sitting there for an extended period of time.
- Take advantage of voicemail. If it’s not a call from your child’s school or your elderly mom’s caregiver, let the message go to voicemail. It’s easier to allow the call to go to a message system than offer an excuse, “I can’t talk right now.”
- Don’t video or take photos without the permission of others. Your colleagues or boss won’t appreciate the unexpected, and unflattering photo or video of the staff meeting where you wore a funny hat to get a laugh. Only post if you have your boss’s okay.
- Set the example. One single employee can start a downward spiral with his or her bad tech habits. The same holds true if you’re a boss who walks through the corridor constantly checking your technology without connecting with your employees.
- If you are having an issue in your office, or if you want to detour a potential problem, put it in writing. A company policy makes it perfectly clear what is expected from the staff and can be referenced when needed.
Although a “no phone zone” isn’t always realistic in company meetings (especially when you manage a sales staff who rely on their devices to contribute to the company’s bottom line), avoid smartphone use when conducting or attending meetings unless you are the exception (and most of us are not!).
- Let your friends and family know the rules. Emergency calls only, or leave your message on voicemail and wait until the lunch hour.
- Silence it. Change your phone setting so that it’s not blaring P!nk’s (Yes, I did the “!” on purpose!) latest song in the middle of a board meeting. The buzz, buzz, buzz of the vibrate tone is even more disturbing. At least P!nk has a great voice!
- Get others involved. Do your part to encourage participation from your colleagues to maintain a professional work environment, with limited access to unnecessary texting and cell phone use when it is taking time and ultimately money away from the bottom line of the company. When one person sets the bar high, other’s will follow.
And finally, while it goes without saying, the restroom is not a place to conduct personal or social business with their technology. There is a time and a place for everything. You determine when to use your technology, rather than allowing your technology to dictate the rules.