Five common modern technology etiquette blunders (and how to fix them)

By | In Blog | May 15th, 2017

We all know that taking a phone call on speaker phone from your desk in your open concept workplace is really irritating to everybody else in the office. Don’t do it. Pick up your phone or put on a headset.

But what about the subtler technology uses that can be just as inconsiderate to other people and can make you look like an amateur? While technology makes a great deal of business communications easier, using it improperly can hurt your professional reputation.  Here are a few behaviors that we see far too often in business settings that people don’t seem to realize is rude. If you’re guilty of any of these, you need to stop now.

Sending a meeting request without an agenda. If you want someone to take the time to attend your meeting or interrupt their work for a phone call, let them know in advance what the topic is. Nobody likes being unprepared or caught off guard.

Solution: Give people the courtesy of informing them in advance what is being discussed. Include the topic of the meeting in the invitation along with any relevant background information or attachments they should read in advance. If participants will be asked to speak or offer any updates, make sure that they are well aware of this beforehand so that they can prepare adequately.

Not testing your technology in advance. We’ve all sat in far too many meetings where the first ten minutes or so are taken up by several people fiddling with projectors and cables trying to get the computer to display on the big screen. That is a whole room full of people wasting their time due to poor planning.

Solution: If you know you are going to need the projector or sound, or any other technical functionality, show up early and test your connections. Troubleshoot in advance. That way when your meeting attendees arrive, you’re ready to start.

Being unprepared for technical hiccups. Similarly, if you’re presenting at a client’s or partner’s office, don’t count on their technology. Maybe you’ll be able connect to their network or maybe they’ll have a device for you to use, but bring your own just in case.

Having a contingency plan in place makes you look like an extremely competent professional, and means you won’t have to waste people’s time while you fumble for access to the systems you need.

Solution: If you’re planning to use Wi-Fi, be prepared to tether your laptop to your phone for your own connection just in case. You can also store your presentation and any charts, images, reports or data you’ll need on a flash drive in case you cannot access them online.

Not testing your webcam before a video conference. As the office becomes more and more virtual, and people increasingly work together from remote locations, video conferencing his become an essential part of business communications. Given that, plan your laptop placement in advance of the call.

There’s nothing worse than having a video chat with someone who has a window directly behind them so that they look like just a silhouette onscreen as though they were in witness protection, or who realize partway through the call that they are in a high-traffic, noisy area and have to pick up their computer and walk around looking for a quite spot.

Solution: Find a private, well-lit area before your video conference, and check your camera and microphone so that other people don’t have to spend their valuable time watching you make adjustments.

Late or lack of follow-up. Email can seem like an impersonal form of communication, and most of us receive more emails in a day than we have time to read, let alone respond to. That is no excuse for not meeting commitments or responding to legitimate business messages in a timely manner. Ignoring client questions or forgetting to share promised documents after a meeting can take a toll on your professional credibility.

Solution: Use the full functionality of Outlook. Your office email program is more than just an inbox, it is a powerful tool for filing communications, tasks, calendar events and reminders. A few minutes of organizing and scheduling can keep you up-to-date with the essentials and separate the important from the irrelevant.

Even if you don’t have time to tackle a request right away, send a quick reply to acknowledge the inquiry with an estimated time you’ll be able to get back to the sender in more detail. It’s only polite.

Most of the common breaches of workplace tech etiquette involve not valuing other people’s time or needs. Fortunately, these are fairly easy avoidable with the proper use of the latest technology and a little preparation in advance. It’s amazing how far ahead of the competition you can get just by showing up prepared, having a back-up plan for when things go wrong, and promptly following up on professional requests, because far too many people don’t.

Oh, and still don’t take phone calls on speakerphone at your desk.  Everybody hates that.

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This blog post is by Andy Papadopoulos of Navantis, now a Datavail company.

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Andy Papadopoulos
Practice Leader of Microsoft Solutions Group
Since before he would like to admit, Andy has been leading teams that help clients leverage technology to make them a better business than they were yesterday. The team’s goal in every project is to be a true partner and help clients maximize the value of their tools by delivering solutions that meet specific needs. Andy has always firmly believed that delivering a great project-based solution is the start of an on-going partnership that provides long term strategic value. He’s also never met a power tool he didn’t like.

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