When I think back to all the years that I pleaded with more than one former boss to let me work at home, the answer was always no. Now that we’re home seven days a week, how I wish I could go back to the office if only for one day! In one year, we have had to shift our way of life and pivot to daily communication. Even though E-etiquette is a choice of this generation, with Covid, the engagement rules have changed, and maybe for good. Overnight the handshake became a weapon, and the home is the new office. In-person meetings are now done virtually, and because Cyberspace has a culture all its own, we must remember that good online behavior is easy if you know the rules. If you don’t, you’re liable to offend people without meaning to do so.
To understand digital etiquette, you must realize that it is happening in real-time faster than the rules are evolving. Everything in life calls for balance, but it’s difficult because Zoom meetings have replaced in-person meetings. What’s important to remember is that your people skills are your social skills. This is especially true online without face-to-face communication. We don’t realize how much body language and facial expressions work to convey meaning and tone. Without them, the reader can only puzzle out words on a screen. It’s easy to forget that with each point and click that there are human faces on the other end, not just numbers, pictures, or characters.
Because work and home are one and the same, we must politely enforce boundaries that have been eroded with the pandemic. Our country is bleeding words, but those words, albeit virtual, have been the silver lining of this pandemic. If we didn’t live in a digital age, we wouldn’t be able to email, text, or go online to keep in touch. FaceTime is the new phone call. Texting is the latest letter writing because both are immediate. As a sole proprietor, 9 to 5 does not exist, but I’m not living in a household of two parents and three kids while working at the same time. You keep hours when you go to an office, so why not keep them at home, as in 9 to 5? If people want to email after that, you can respond the next day. If Zoom calls are scheduled, they can be done during regular office hours.
5 Best Digital Practices
1. Communicate and train on all platforms.
2. Because you will not be meeting face-to-face, communicate with regular feedback.
3. Be direct and professional, especially online.
4. Use plenty of visuals.
5. Double-check your work before publishing.
My Dad showing off his old and new iPhones.