Digital Citizenship or “Netiquette” is a hot topic in the workplace. Digital Citizenship in the workplace is defined as having the knowledge to behave responsibly, professionally and appropriately when using technology. How we utilize and maximize this important and vital tool in our professional life can be a direct reflection of our personal brand and the brand of our organization. Let’s explore some of the challenges we face as we strive to a good Digital Citizen.
SMARTPHONES AND DUMB PHONES
- According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone. Smartphones are on our “person” nearly every minute of every day. The average person currently spends 8 hours and 41 minutes on electronic devices. While this is a valuable tool it can also become a serious distraction, reduce our attention span and can give the impression of not paying attention or being present in a conversation or meeting. A recent study by Microsoft Corporation has found this digital lifestyle has made it difficult for us to stay focused, with the human attention span shortening from 12 seconds to eight seconds in more than a decade.
EMAILS AND INSTANT MESSAGING
- Professionals still use email as a formal means of communication in the workplace. In fact, archived emails are sometimes used as evidence in legal cases. Knowing how to effective compose or reply to an email is a vital skill in business. The popular use of acronyms and emoji’s in the business world has opened up a relaxed and casual style of communication which can blur the lines of professionalism.
- When it comes to communication, texting is about as casual as it gets. In some situations, it’s also one of the most convenient and efficient ways to correspond. But when you’re texting to fellow team members, leaders and clients you have to establish a different set of standards than when you use texting personally.
- Companies are increasingly procuring and using technology to increase productivity through automation. Personal documents, photos. internet usage and email communications are company “property” if you are using your work computer. Also, games and other entertainment applications can possibly slow down the business-critical programs.
- “Friending” and “Following” clients and colleagues can be difficult waters to navigate. Blending the waters of business and personal lives can be an effective yet sometimes dangerous mix if not managed properly.
Digital Citizenship is tricky. In today’s world of faster, quicker, better it is easy to get caught in the casual and relaxed communication trap. How we reflect our professional self digitally is just as important as how we present in real life. We will actually have more opportunities to represent our brand and the brand of our organization digitally. We must have clarity of the expectations and standards required by our organization so we can effectively navigate the waters of Digital Citizenship.
Let’s define some proactive ways we can keep our Digital Citizenship in good standing;
Smartphone and Dumb Phone
- Be present
- Don’t look at your phone while you are in a meeting
- Leave your phone at your desk
- Buy a watch if you need the time
- Do not compose important emails or documents via a Smartphone miniature keyboard
- Limit personal use
Emails and Instant Messaging
- Professional business-letter format and tone
- Assume that your email could be read by someone other than the recipient
- Don’t include personal or otherwise embarrassing content that you would feel comfortable sharing with everyone
- “Reply to All” should only be used in EXTREME and SPECIFIC circumstances
- Use correct and respectful language and words when communicating
- Be careful with abbreviations. There are inappropriate abbreviations. Only type what you would feel comfortable saying. Don’t be too casual. Take the safe route and type out the word or phrase
- Be aware of your tone. Like emails, short and fast can sound harsh and abrupt by the receiver. Avoid negative words and don’t forget “please” and “thank you”
- Never send bad news via text. Only send good or neutral news via text. Bad news = Phone call
- Limit changing meeting times or venues via text. Not everyone is addicted to their phone and may not catch the change. Give a call out of respect if you have a last minute change
- Always double check when using your voice-to-text feature. Proof read before you hit send. The phone conversion and autocorrect can sabotage the intent of your message
- Limit your personal use of your business computer
- Understand and acknowledge that everything on your company computer is part of your computer and therefore company property
- Do not download games, songs and videos that cause digital bumper to bumper rush hour traffic on your network
- Don’t bring your laptop to meetings unless requested to do so. If you have it, close it once the meeting starts
- Be very careful what you state and what you post online
- Don’t share internal company activities or sensitive information with the external world
- Everything you post matters
- Read, Think and Re-Read before you hit POST
- Your personal posts, photos and videos will impact your professional brand
- Post WISELY
The world of digital communication allows us to communicate and build relationship with our clients in amazing ways. Having clarity and a clear plan on how we can consistently maximize this tool for the team members in our organization can be another way to separate ourselves from the competition and keep you out of “digital customs’.