Got a penchant for posting short rants about work online? Ever accidentally slipped an emoticon into a work e-mail?
Well you are not alone. But more employees are discovering how treacherous their addiction to technology can be in the workplace today.
Some 76 per cent of human resource managers polled in North America last month said tech-based etiquette mishaps can adversely affect a person's career prospects. The survey, which was developed by the recruitment company Robert Half International, based in the US, also identified the top categories of "technology etiquette breachers".
See if you can recognise some of your co-workers - or maybe even a glimmer of yourself here and there:
For some, it's quite natural to take to the keyboard and vent about a demanding boss or annoying workmate. More than 700 people "like" the Facebook page, "I hate my job," after all. Others prefer posting similar sentiments to Twitter: "I hate my job … enough with the boring routine," one Abu Dhabi worker tweeted this week. A few days later, someone from Kuwait chimed in, writing: "I don't hate my job but I hate the kind of people I work with." Ouch.
As innocuous as these digital gripes and groans may seem, bosses can often access them, publicly, without even having their own social networking account set up. The best advice for avoiding any awkward confrontations at work is to stick to more positive information in public posts, and save those frustration-fuelled rants for private conversations.
The Noise Polluter
These folk seem to lack basic phone etiquette skills. Some tend to speak in their outdoor voices - about private matters - while standing next to a colleague's desk. Others increase the noise pollution level up a notch by leaving their mobile phone behind when they step away from their desks, with their ringtones on loud. Experts say it's usually best to keep the mobile on silent mode while in the office, and it's always best to hold private conversations behind closed doors whenever possible.
The Cryptic Communicator
From AEAP ("as early as possible") to BRB ("be right back") and, of course, LOL ("laugh out loud") there are now literally thousands of acronyms for shorthand text messages. But this kind of cryptic communication can make it challenging, if not impossible, to get your point across in a business setting. Mix in poor punctuation, spelling and grammar, and it's no wonder many bosses and co-workers these days are pleading for clarification.
Experts suggest spending more time on creating messages, and to avoid going overboard with online instant messaging in an office through programs such as AOL Instant Messenger, Windows Live Messenger or GChat from Google. "And don't expect that everyone will want to 'chat' with you at all times," warn the experts at Robert Half. "For many, e-mail is immediate enough."
The Distracted Multitasker
We've all witnessed it before: co-workers who scan e-mails on their BlackBerrys during a meeting, or those work on another assignment while on a conference call. The message they are sending is that they are either too bored or too important for this meeting, neither of which is likely to be well-received. Multitasking is a valued skill for most professions, but only in the appropriate manner. And it's not just an issue among lower-level workers: almost 50 per cent of executives have confessed to frequently multitasking in meetings, according to a separate survey by Robert Half.