Here’s the 101 everyone needs to know about online etiquette at work
I don’t know how things worked in the workplace when my parents were my age and the internet didn’t exist—beepers, memos, too many meetings, magazine browsing?—but everyone now knows it’s a pretty big thing.
Need to send something out? Email. Don’t want to physically go to a meeting? Video call. Can’t be bothered to sit down and work on a presentation together with your team? Google Slides. Need a break from your desktop screen and itching for a laugh? Social media.
So, you know what, the internet deserves our respect and doesn’t have time to be taken advantage of. And yes, in case you were wondering, there is such a thing as online etiquette at work.
Business is business. When it comes to the use of your work email, only use it for work. The company technically owns and can probably see everything you’re sending out and receiving, so maybe don’t get too personal on there. You wouldn’t want the IT guy to see what kind of purchases you’ve been making online.
Be prompt and appropriate. If you receive an email and it’s addressed to you, do the proper thing and reply. Even if it’s just your colleague trying to align with you, it’s best to confirm receipt of the email. And if it’s your boss that’s sending things out, better be sure you send out a “Noted with thanks!” or “Will work on this!” pronto.
Address the right people. We know it can get tempting to just copy in everyone in your office sometimes, but nobody likes junk. If it doesn’t involve a specific person and they don’t need to be in-the-know, save them the time and energy of opening and going through your email.
Also, literally address the right people. Make sure your emails are reaching the correct individuals.
"See attached screenshot" AKA you coulda Googled this yourself but ima show you pictorially that you dont know how to do your job.
— Yori (@AnAmazingFeat) October 17, 2018
No porn/streaming/downloading. It’s common practice for IT departments to block certain websites and searches nowadays, but in case your company puts more faith on you than ours puts on us, stay away from the bad stuff. This means no looking at porn, no streaming Netflix and no downloading from illegal sites.
Use it sparingly. Make sure to get your work done and use search engines for actual research. No one will appreciate seeing you type in “Game Of Thrones memes” in the middle of the afternoon unless your job actually depends on it.
Check the time. Depending on your preference, Facebook/Instagram/Twitter can be a black hole from which it will take hours to come back to the real world. While you’re in the office, checking your notifications once in a while is fine—just don’t get sucked into it. Keep your eye on the clock.
Post timely. Unless there’s actually something happening in your office (like a birthday or the company’s anniversary), try to post your videos and photos after work hours. We add everyone on social media these days (the bosses included) and you best bet they’re not going to appreciate seeing your multiple selfies while you’re supposed to be working.
Remember that it’s public. And that means anyone can see it. You might be friends with your boss and rant with them about the workload or that creep in the office, but someone else might see it and not find it humorous. Your online life is a reflection of you.
Mic drop. Anyone that has ever been part of a video call knows the annoying background sounds of someone that’s part of the conference. Rule of thumb: if you aren’t talking, shut your mic off. And if you’re the one leading the call, make sure to ask around for any questions/concerns/issues often.
Sit up, freshen up. While the video part of a video call is hardly ever required, make sure to still look professional should the need arise. So sit up (even if it is on your bed) and run a brush through that head of hair.
Just no. Don’t do it. It’s the most insulting thing to hear an officemate shout in cheer or frustration from a game while everyone else is trying to finish a report or answering a call from a client.
Way back when, companies looked at an employee and passed judgement based on the more traditional dress, attitude and work quality. Now—and this is no way a joke—online etiquette at work is the first thing that they look at.
Better make sure it’s a pretty picture, huh?
Art Alexandra Lara