In the age of apps and Apple, culture is being rapidly reshaped to reflect technological conventions. This is especially true of the way we communicate, with globalism and instant interactions as the new standard. Of course, this comes with upheavals in etiquette as well. What is expected, what is and isn’t socially acceptable, those ideals are shifting. At work this can create cognitive dissonance as our jobs are often the environment in which we behave most conservatively. Yet there is no turning back the clock – these shifts are here to stay. With that in mind, now is the time to recognize how not just etiquette but office etiquette specifically is changing in the digital age.
New ways of communicating
More and more online communication is being conducted through written platforms such as email or intranets. This is increasingly true as the number of workers who telecommute rises. The obvious flipside of increased written communication is that verbal communication is no longer used as widely. With verbal communication comes tone of voice and many other signifiers that help us understand one another. In the absence of that, miscommunication and misunderstanding become much easier. This can lead to hurt feelings or worse – all of which negatively impact the work environment.
This is, however, easily remedied. A little patience and clarity go a long way, and remembering that the other person doesn’t have your voice or facial expressions to utilize can alleviate many misunderstandings. What you’re left with are the benefits of the digital workspace – instant collaboration, globalized communication, and access to more information than ever before.
In modern workplaces, there’s a constant struggle to figure out how outside technologies fit into office culture. New devices like smartphones have become necessary tools outside work, as have social media platforms. Yet there’s been pushback on them at work, with companies weary of any social media use by employees and keeping your cellphone on during the day considered unprofessional. This is only now beginning to change. Companies are starting to use internal social media platforms and allow their employees to access their intranet over mobile devices. Many are still reluctant to embrace the digital, but this luddism won’t remain tenable for long, and companies getting the benefits of technology will soon surpass those who don’t.
Embracing digital office etiquette
Office etiquette is changing. What was previously unacceptable is now unavoidable thanks to new technologies. Businesses, especially those in more conservative industries, would do well to adapt along with outside socials conventions. In the long run, technology will help them. Moreover, they will eventually be forced to adopt much of what currently worries them the most. The best strategy would be to embrace it now and learn to use it to their advantage.