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The importance of having digital communication etiquette in the workplace

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Digital communication etiquette refers to the set of rules that should be present in the workplace to govern behavior and use of digital communication. In turn, digital communication refers to the different means of communication over the Internet or other digital means.

While digital communication may be advantageous in the workplace, there are also instances when abuse and disrespect can prevail. In these instances, the Internet has failed to become a proper form of communication.

That said, here are some of the good reasons why every workplace needs to practice digital communication etiquette: 

1. Everyone learns to treat others in the way they want to be treated

In the workplace, everyone – from the lowest to the highest rank – should practice the golden rule, that is, treat others in the manner that they wish to be treated. Without digital communication etiquette, however, this can be very hard to achieve. Disrespect can prosper and good manners can rarely be seen in communication at work.

For example, there are specific political issues or workplace issues that an employee wants to address. This employee should learn that it’s better to address this in person or a private email. Perhaps even request for a sit-down meeting with the other employee concerned through email.

Without this kind of etiquette in mind, it can be very easy to insult and rant on social media sites. Doing this, however, does nothing but create gossip and insult in an environment where everyone is supposed to be united. 

2. Misunderstandings can be controlled

With verbal communication, the message sent to be put out is done so easily and clearly. Whatever grievance or concern an employee has, this is better understood.

With non-verbal communication, however, this isn’t very easy to assert. It can be so easy to make false assumptions or to create their interpretation of things. Note that this applies significantly to digital communication, too, as these are usually done in non-verbal forms as well.

The last thing that you’d want in the workplace is for misunderstanding to be so prevalent. Hence, the need to set in ground rules for everyone to abide by universally. 

3. Helps foster positive messages across the workplace

The ease of digital communication also makes it easy for delivering abusive and hurtful messages. Not only can this be done by one person, but it can also spread across many different people, too. In just a few clicks, hateful messages can quickly be passed around the workplace.

Setting ground rules can help establish positive and truthful posts. Messages should be censored so as not to contain any rude, sarcastic, or negative message. Having etiquette rules in place can also put a stop to the possible spread of gossip or false messages. Cyberbullying is prevalent. You wouldn’t want this to begin on your work premises. 

4. Trust, authenticity, and credibility is stronger

How can you trust people in an environment where gossip is prevalent? How can you show to other people in the industry that your company culture is authentic? This starts with the workplace.

Companies should monitor and learn to put emphasis on the behavior of their employees when engaging in digital communication. Else, it might result in the negative happenstance where these representatives are placing your business in such a bad light. 

5. Employees learn to double check messages First 

Once you’ve hit the “send” button, in most cases, this can be very hard to undo. If there’s anything in the email that shouldn’t be there, then your company is in for some serious trouble.

This is precisely why it’s important to have updates on digital communication etiquette from time-to-time. If you’ve got new employees hired to be members of your team, brief them on how to communicate over the digital medium effectively and respectfully. Communicating properly through digital communication should be a part of the skills necessary to constantly upskill your entire workforce.

In all cases, the attitude should always be to check messages before hitting send.

6. Employees don’t practice bad etiquette 

This last benefit may be quite obvious, but it’s important to highlight. Without digital communication in the workplace, it can be very easy for employees and everyone in the workforce, for that matter, to take for granted good manners and right conduct. In fact, they might not even be aware that what they’re doing and how they’re behaving is already wrong.

Here are some examples of bad digital etiquette that can quickly prosper without setting down the ground rules:

  • Typing and sending out messages in CAPS
  • Sending spam messages through the work email
  • Using street language
  • Distributing illicit or illegal material through email

Conclusion

When you communicate with a person face-to-face, there isn’t much left to interpret. Almost everything that needs to be talked about is clear. The body language is also very apparent, such that it can also help ease out whatever was unclear during the communication process.

In digital communication, however, this isn’t the case. All you can do is read through the words sent to you and also listen to the voice recorded. Hence, the need for strong digital communication etiquette practices in the workplace. That way, any miscommunication and other errors can be avoided.

About Janine Lucas

janinel@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

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