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Miss Office Manners: “Netiquette” Tips

by Mary Isner / April 5, 2024

The post-pandemic work environment has many different looks. Some people telework full-time, while others work in a hybrid office with some time in the office and some time working remotely. A few have returned to the office full-time. No matter what your workplace arrangement is, one thing they all have in common is the use of technology. In this installment of Miss Office Manners, I offer my top office techno-etiquette or “netiquette” tips:

Top Office "Netiquette" Tips:

  • Watch your language. When sending emails, texts, and instant messages, use professional language. Avoid relaxed or casual language, and certainly do not say anything that could be considered offensive to anyone. 
  • Respond promptly to emails, instant messages, and texts. During work hours, do not leave people hanging. Even a simple “Got it” or something like that works but receiving a message and not responding is just plain rude!
  • Use “Reply All” wisely.  Be careful when using this function, as respecting the sender's privacy is important. Emails should be handled sensitively, and “Reply All” should never be used if your response contains personal or confidential information. 
  • Be as brief as possible. No one wants to read an email that resembles a novel! You should not be long-winded in online communication, but you should also not be so short in your responses that it could be construed as terse. Respect the recipient’s time by conveying your message clearly and concisely.
  • Set your “Out of Office” reply. If you plan to be out for an extended period, set the “Out of Office” reply on your email before heading out. In it, indicate when you will return and who can be contacted in your absence. 
  • Treat video meetings the same as you would an in-person meeting. If you are participating in a meeting remotely, be as present as you would be if you were in person.  That means no checking emails, looking at your phone, or “multitasking” during a meeting. That is just plain inconsiderate and unprofessional! Also, pay attention to your body language. It’s important to raise your camera to chin level, keep your body language approachable, smile, maintain eye contact, and use hand gestures.  

  • Leave tech equipment as you found it when working in shared spaces. This occurred to me the other day when I watched my client struggle to get the video feed working on her side for a Zoom meeting with multiple stakeholders. She was in one of her office’s shared meeting rooms and had to call in IT, who discovered one of the chords had been removed from the room. All of this could have been easily avoided. In addition, if you go into a shared space and the technology isn’t working properly, at the very least, let someone know so that the next person doesn’t have to deal with it. 

  • Schedule your messages. Be mindful of coworker schedules. If you are sending non-urgent emails or instant messages during off hours, schedule the message to show up during the appropriate business hours for the person receiving the message. Most of us continue to check messages during our free time, so it would be great if the sender could be respectful and only interrupt free time when it is critical.

  • Consider the recipient's preferences. If unsure about the recipient's preferred communication style, err on formality. Pay attention to their previous emails or messages to gauge their tone and adjust yours accordingly.

  • Proofread before sending. Before hitting send, take a moment to review your email or instant messages for spelling, grammar, or clarity errors. My boss uses transcribing software and speaks most of his messages. Sometimes, we must phonetically sound out the words to understand their meaning. It can be quite funny, but it can also be unclear. He would even agree that he should proofread before sending messages. Well-written and polished communication reflects positively on your professionalism and attention to detail.

I hope you have found these tips helpful and enjoyable. I wish everyone a productive and healthy work environment, whatever it may look like. Be safe and well, everyone!

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Tags: Office Manners

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Mary Isner

Mary Isner

Mary has a master’s degree in public administration and has worked as a facility planning analyst for Fentress since 2003. In her free time, she enjoys baking, decorating, and spending time with her family.