Mobile gadgets lead to poor workplace etiquette, says survey

by CXOtoday News Desk    May 10, 2013

mobile gadgets

Technology is one of the most effective ways to bring people together at work, but it may also be causing a digital divide, a new Robert Half Technology survey of chief information officers (CIOs) suggests. Sixty-four per cent of CIOs said higher use of mobile gadgets such as mobile phones and tablets have led to more breaches in workplace etiquette over the last three years. That’s up from 51 per cent who said the same thing in a similar survey three years ago.

The survey was based on more than 2,300 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies in 23 major metro areas with 100 or more employees. CIOs were asked, “In your opinion, what effect has the increased use of mobile electronic gadgets — such as mobile phones, smartphones, handheld devices and laptops — had on workplace etiquette in the past three years? Have the number of breaches in workplace etiquette increased, decreased or remained the same?”

Nearly 17 per cent CIOs in 2013 believe that breaches owing to mobile devices have increased significantly as against 21 per cent in 2010. However, 47 per cent in 2013 said that it has increased moderately as against 42 per cent in 2010. Only 4 per cent CIOs said it remained the same.

“As mobile devices have become increasingly integrated into the workplace, they’ve helped us become more productive, but they also can serve as a round-the-clock distraction,” said John Reed , senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “If you’re not fully engaged in a conversation or meeting, you may spend more time replying to emails than listening, for example.” He added that these devices can also make it easier to mistakenly offend colleagues when you fire off a communication too quickly, or use the wrong medium for the message.”

The survey suggests avoiding certain things to managers and employees so as to avoid workplace etiqquette breaches:

1.       Surfing while talking. Checking your email while someone is trying to have a one-on-one conversation with you is impolite. You’ll come off looking distracted and disrespectful.

2.       Leaving a long voice mail. For most communications, you should get to the point quickly. Aim for a voice mail that’s no longer than 30 seconds unless it’s a delicate or complicated issue.

3.       Using the wrong form of communication. Can you send a text or IM instead of calling? Along the same lines, email is better than instant message when an immediate response isn’t required. Of course, if you need to have a difficult conversation with someone, picking up the phone or talking in person is best.

4.       Taking multitasking to the extreme. While it is generally acceptable to bring laptops and smartphones to meetings, you still must be an active and attentive participant. Reign in the urge to surf the Web, update your Facebook status or check your email every minute. Also set your smartphone to vibrate or turn it off completely.