Personal Technology: A Lesson in Office Etiquette

With new technology comes a new set of workplace etiquette rules. Learn how to maximize your productivity and keep the peace with your office mates.


Technology can be a great time-saver or a time-sink, depending on the platforms you’re using and how you use them. Additionally, the use of electronic devices requires its own set of etiquette rules for the workplace. Ignore them, and you’ll end up disrupting meetings and annoying your colleagues. To keep yourself in check, follow these five tips.

Choose your apps wisely.

There’s an app for practically everything these days, from functional apps that let you deposit checks on the go to addictive games that keep you entertained for hours. Diminish the digital distraction by only downloading apps to your work devices that will improve productivity. These include Remember the Milk, Evernote and Mojonote to keep you organized and productive wherever your work takes you – and 1Password to remember all your passwords and keep them secure. Save the fun apps for your personal devices.

Set rules for social.

If you catch yourself checking Facebook for the fifth time today, it’s safe to assume it’s affecting your productivity. To combat this, establish guidelines that dictate when you can play on your personal social media accounts, such as during your commute or lunch break. Turn off reminders on your phone and close the websites on your work computer until it’s time to take a break. You’ll be amazed at how much time you’ll gain back when you’re not refreshing your Twitter page every 10 minutes.

Silence your device.

It’s perfectly acceptable to bring a smartphone or tablet into a work meeting these days, especially if you plan to use it to take notes during the meeting. To avoid disrupting the meeting, make sure you silence your devices before entering the room. If you’re not using your phone during the meeting, keep it stowed away in your pocket or put it face-down on the table to avoid getting distracted by inbound emails and other updates. If you must take a call during a meeting, excuse yourself from the room as quietly as possible. When you’re on your phone, be cognizant of your volume – the entire floor doesn’t need to hear your conversation.

Track your time online.

Does time seem to fly by, but your to-do list doesn’t get any shorter? As much as we’d like to think of ourselves as efficient multi-taskers, research has shown that multi-tasking typically reduces your productivity by 40%. Take advantage of free apps such as Izepto and Toggl you can download to your smart device or PC to track your activities and identify where you’re losing focus. Track your activities for at least one week before you decide how to alter your workflow.

Clean out your inbox before work.

Use your smartphone to eliminate spam and organize your inbox of work emails before you get to the office. Whether you do this while waiting in line for your morning coffee or sitting on the train during your commute, you can clear out a lot of unnecessary emails and start setting your game plan for the day before you enter the office.

Electronic devices can be a powerful tool in the workplace, when used appropriately. Use the tips above to ensure technology is working for you, instead of against you at the office.

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EDITORS’ NOTE: This article originally appeared on  Tech Gadgets Contributing to Decline in Workplace Etiquette.