By Claire West

We’ve all made mistakes at work, but with the extensive use of technology and social media at the office, the repercussions can now receive broad exposure and come hand in hand with unpleasant consequences. When polled, nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) UK workers believed that misusing technology could negatively affect a person’s career prospects; with nearly one third (31 per cent) saying it could greatly impact them.

To prevent professionals from falling victim to online slip-ups, OfficeTeam, a leading provider for office and administrative support professionals, has released a new guide, Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age, offering tips on how employees can appropriately use professional networking sites, social media, e-mail, instant messaging, mobile devices and more. The company has also identified five common types of tech etiquette offenders and how to ensure you aren’t one of them.

“Mishandling technology and social media in the workplace, such as paying more attention to your smart phone than the people you’re meeting with, can make others feel uncomfortable and possibly cause you to overlook information,” said Phil Booth, director for OfficeTeam UK.

“Other mistakes, such as sending a confidential e-mail to the wrong person or impulsively posting an offensive comment on Facebook or Twitter, can have more serious, career-impacting consequences. It is therefore important for employees get a handle on how to use these tools correctly.”

British workers were asked, “To what extent, if at all, do you think technology etiquette mistakes (e.g. email messages to unintended recipients, checking BlackBerry/mobile phones during meetings, posting inappropriate content on social media sites etc.) can negatively affect a person’s career prospects?”

Their responses:


Greatly 31%

Somewhat 56%

Don’t know 7%

Not at all 6%

OfficeTeam has identified the top five technology blunders and how to avoid being tarred with the same brush:

1. The Truth Bender. This fibber tells their manager they are too ill to come into the office but meanwhile posts contradictory information on their Facebook page, giving the game away.

Advice: Be sure that your social media profile corroborates information you tell your colleagues; it’s important to be honest and up front while also ensuring that this is reflected online.

2. The Personal Poster. This indiscreet individual updates their status too often, discussing trivial matters from the weather to what they ate for lunch, and even complain about their job online.
Advice: Always be mindful of your digital footprint. While your actions may seem innocent, they may have unintended repercussions. Your aim should be to become a trusted authority rather than a social butterfly.

3.The Pop-Up Artist. While others try to remain on task, this chat fanatic insists on sending a flurry of instant messages throughout the day that bear no relevance to the work at hand.

Advice: Instant messages are fine for quick conversations, but don’t go overboard. Not everyone will want or have the time to ‘chat’ with you, and for many, e-mail is the preferred method.

4.The Conference Call Con. While pretending to pay attention during teleconferences, this multi-tasker is so busy checking e-mail that they are oblivious to what’s being discussed.

Advice: Although we all multitask from time to time, pay attention to relevant conversations when on conference calls. It may help to turn away from your monitor so you’re not distracted by e-mail that may pop-up during the call.

5.The Noise Polluter. Their phone seems to lack a silent mode or an off button. Whether in a meeting or at a colleague’s desk, they freely make calls, oblivious to their surroundings, making it impossible for others to concentrate.

Advice: To keep office noise at a minimum, set your phone to silent mode while at the workplace, and hold personal conversations behind closed doors.