Digital Devices Creating a Loss of Workplace Etiquette

Posted May 23, 2013 by

While technology can make things better for us on the job, it can also create a lack of etiquette in the workplace.  The following post has more information.

Technology is one of the most effective ways to bring people together at work, but it may also be causing a digital divide, a new Robert Half Technology survey of chief information officers (CIOs) suggests. Sixty-four percent of CIOs said higher use of mobile gadgets such as cellphones and tablets have led to more breaches in workplace etiquette over the last three years. That’s up from 51 percent who said the same thing in a similar survey three years ago.

CIOs were asked, “In your opinion, what effect has the increased use of mobile electronic gadgets — such as cellphones, smartphones, handheld devices and laptops — had on workplace etiquette in the past three years? Have the number of breaches in workplace etiquette increased, decreased or remained the same?” Their responses:

Increased significantly



Increased somewhat



Remained the same



Decreased somewhat



Decreased significantly



Don’t know






                                                * Numbers may not total 100 percent due to rounding.

John Reed

John Reed, Senior Executive Director of Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group

“As mobile devices have become increasingly integrated into the workplace, they’ve helped us become more productive, but they also can serve as a round-the-clock distraction,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “If you’re not fully engaged in a conversation or meeting, you may spend more time replying to emails than listening, for example.”

Added Reed: “These devices can also make it easier to mistakenly offend colleagues when you fire off a communication too quickly, or use the wrong medium for the message.”

Consider avoiding these four things to remain in the good graces of your colleagues and manager:

1.       Surfing while talking. Checking your email while someone is trying to have a one-on-one conversation with you is impolite. You’ll come off looking distracted and disrespectful.

2.       Leaving a long voice mail. For most communications, you should get to the point quickly. Aim for a voice mail that’s no longer than 30 seconds unless it’s a delicate or complicated issue.

3.       Using the wrong form of communication. Can you send a text or IM instead of calling? Along the same lines, email is better than instant message when an immediate response isn’t required. Of course, if you need to have a difficult conversation with someone, picking up the phone or talking in person is best.

4.       Taking multitasking to the extreme. While it is generally acceptable to bring laptops and smartphones to meetings, you still must be an active and attentive participant. Reign in the urge to surf the Web, update your Facebook status or check your email every minute. Also set your smartphone to vibrate or turn it off completely.

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