Top 5 dos and don'ts in tech etiquette at work

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media posts can have a huge, often negative, impact on work relationships.

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As a boss in the tech industry, you may be friendly with coworkers and your reports in the office, but befriending them on social media can open up a world of faux pas. Nearly one in 10 people end friendships because of inappropriate interpersonal social-media offenses, noted a recent report from Influence.co, which polled 1,000 people on how tech etiquette impacts relationships. 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other popular social platforms are fine for your personal circle of friends, but when it comes to work, there are too many potential minefields, with popular topics of posts eliciting strong reactions; consider politics (the number one reason people unfriend online), religious beliefs, and other relationship testers, all of which are best left out of the workplace, and work relationships.

Yet, despite this 33% men and 23% women polled find using social media at work appropriate. Millennials are twice as likely as baby boomers to think social media use is acceptable at work. 

SEE: Transgender employees in tech: Why this "progressive" industry has more work to do to achieve true gender inclusivity (TechRepublic cover story)

And company culture is set by the boss or manager. In addition to their recently released poll, influence.co provided the top five etiquette or behavioral musts and must nots for those in charge (and they're pretty apt for employees, too, but it all starts at the top).

Must do:

  1. Understand your company culture
  2. Stick to business at work
  3. Stay positive
  4. Stay neutral
  5. Fact check what you share

Must never do:

  1. Get political
  2. Get overly personal
  3. Overshare
  4. Bully or discriminate
  5. Complain about work

"Adopting better business tech etiquette will go a long way in changing perceptions," said Dom Kelly, head of community and content at influence.co. "When we see people who are buried in their phones crossing the street or texting while driving, there's an immediate perception and response. The same exists for an inappropriate email, or using your phone at work. When you're working in tech, you're more likely to be using the tech that draws these negative perceptions."

Tech is so ingrained in daily workloads that it may be hard to decipher what is and is not appropriate in an office setting. 

"We can look at it two ways: How we operate online and communicate with one another in business, and how we operate and handle our tech usage while in a business setting," Kelly continued. "The distinction has become harder to differentiate between because we're attached to our technology at all times of the day. Different businesses will have different cultures, and understanding how accepting those cultures are of tech usage will go a long way."

Politics, it has long been said, is best left out of the office, and given the volatile state of the US Government both domestically and internationally, it's not a surprise a dissenting political view can cause one in four people to disconnect with friends due to political commentary and comment. 

"While this isn't entirely surprising, it's something to pay close attention to, especially in business," Kelly said. "It's important to think twice, and probably three times, before posting on social media. While we're all entitled to our own opinions, the divisive nature of political commentary can resemble walking a tightrope, and everyone should be aware that what we post on social media has consequences."

Business etiquette vs. tech etiquette

Of course, there's business etiquette and tech etiquette.

Business etiquette has always been around, but "it really became a thing around the time the first iPhone was released or shortly after," Kelly said. "Even before then, it wasn't proper etiquette to walk around the office with headphones on, talk on a cellphone, or use someone else's computer, but it certainly ramped up with the release of the iPhone."

And adopting a healthy culture where employees and bosses follow both the business and tech etiquette guidelines around the office creates an atmosphere that makes people feel more comfortable, productive, and welcomed. 

"Understanding company culture and how that culture sees tech is a starting place," Kelly said. "From there, people should adopt a proper tech etiquette that aligns within that culture. Speaking more broadly, or when conducting business outside of company doors, it's best to limit our tech usage as much as possible. Giving someone your undivided attention and making them feel heard could be the difference in whether you continue working together or not. It might seem obvious, but we've seen business fall through, time and time again, because of a tweet or a poorly timed phone call."

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Annoyance

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