The Power of Please: How Etiquette in an Online World Goes a Long Way

Communication is one of the most powerful tools at a person’s disposal. We’ve developed complex communication methods that reached far beyond our ancestors’ basic vocabulary. Communication is now the cornerstone of a successful relationship – personal or business. 

With the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic, employees found themselves working from home, rather than in an office setting. This meant less oversight for many workers who were used to in-person management. This responsibility to maintain productivity, etiquette, and professionalism, was instantly on stay-at-home workers. But what does etiquette in an online world mean? How does it change the way we communicate in professional environments?

Many businesses still haven’t opened their doors for in-person operations, and even after they do, maintaining a sense of etiquette on and offline is good for everyone. 

Productivity And Etiquette

The convenience and flexibility of online meetings and digital communication has made our work lives that much easier, especially when so many of us are working from home. It’s difficult to imagine a world without such tools. Now, with email, video conferencing tools, and project management software, your living room can feel just like the office.

Working from home can be incredibly productive (and some studies even suggest that it’s more productive than an office setting). However, formalities like etiquette can be easy to leave by the wayside when you’re working in the comfort of your home.

While digital conferences will never quite capture the feel of an in-person meeting, we’re still responsible for following certain rules during these online meetings. The basics of etiquette apply, but online meetings also have their own “netiquette” rules to follow.

Rules of Online Etiquette

Here are some rules of “netiquette” to remember when you’re online.

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  1. Answer emails as promptly as you can, or, in lieu of a direct response, provide some kind of acknowledgment that you’ve received the email and will respond later. This helps prevent miscommunications and lets your recipient know that you’re addressing the task or problem promptly.
  2. Never say anything online you wouldn’t want your boss, relative or close friend to see. Nothing that happens online can ever be fully erased.
  3. Use slang as little as possible, especially in professional environments.
  4. Wait your turn. Where possible, wait until your fellow attendees have finished speaking before chiming in.
  5. Share with discretion. Not everything that’s shared with you is meant for the entire internet.
  6. Keep your online information up-to-date.
  7. Use a file sharing service for large files; emailed files can be marked as spam and never get to the intended recipient.
  8. If it can be said in an email, send it in an email. Conference calls should be reserved for discussions that are not easily handled in email.
  9. Respect other peoples’ privacy as well as your own privacy. Be careful with sensitive information.
  10. Always prepare for meetings by creating a meeting agenda. Have everything you need for the meeting before joining. Trying to locate materials, emails, or other information during a meeting is distracting.
  11. Make protecting sensitive information a priority for conference calls. This means using password-protected calls, a waiting room, and other tools to keep unwanted callers out.
  12. As a participant, use the ‘mute’ button on conference calls judiciously. You don’t want to add extra noise to the meeting. But be careful to not to hide behind Mute and stop paying attention.

How Etiquette Increases Your Professionalism

Professionalism is the art of maintaining a mature and respectful attitude toward other professionals and colleagues. This means, in many cases, being well-groomed, well-dressed, and, of course, utilizing etiquette as a means of respectful communication. 

When you take part in conference calls, messages, or emails at work or while working from home, you should focus on etiquette to stand out among your competition and show respect to your colleagues. The professional who maintains etiquette even in the face of adversity in the workplace is a highly respectable worker and someone that the rest of the workforce can look up to.

Showing good etiquette in an online environment can help keep the meetings moving and ensure that all goals are being met. We’ve all been in a conference call with someone who was rude or disruptive; it’s hardly conducive to a productive environment. It can set a bad example for other people or even mean the difference between solidifying a deal with a new client or scaring them off for good. 

Remember the rules of good netiquette when you join a meeting. Even if you’re joining from home, you should have a clean, productive environment free of distractions for yourself or other callers. It’s always a good idea to dress the part, as well. You may not be at the office, but you’re still “at work” in a sense, and closing a deal with a client in your pajamas is hardly respectful or professional. 

How Better “Netiquette” Can Make A Difference

Etiquette is a crucial component of good communication and a sign of basic respect in the workplace. When we communicate well and show respect, we solve problems quicker and connect more with those around us. You can practice things like better conference call habits, answering emails, or any of the other netiquette rules we discussed in the previous sections. By elevating your online netiquette, you can ensure your next online meeting runs smoothly and remains productive for everyone involved.


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