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Virtual Collaboration Ushers In a New Age of Business Etiquette

As a business person, you already know that it’s proper manners to shake hands, present your business card, and generally act respectful when you’re attending a meeting. But what if that meeting doesn’t take place in-person? With the rapid rise of unified communications and virtual collaboration, some of the rules have changed. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the waters…

In instant messaging

To start, basic netiquette applies. Don’t type in all caps (unless you want the other person to think you’re shouting!), and use proper spelling and punctuation as much as possible. Use emojis thoughtfully, bearing in mind they may change the context of your message.

Above all, be respectful of your colleagues’ time. If they’re in a Busy or Do Not Disturb status, that’s probably not a good time to send them a link to that funny video you saw over the weekend.

During an online meeting

Do your best to give the presenter your full and undivided attention, just as you would in an in-person meeting. If you do have to multi-task, go back to the meeting as often as you can so you don’t miss anything critical.

If you’ve got an availability indicator, set it to Busy so others will know that you’re not available to communicate. Leave those email and chat notifications untouched, unless you see something urgent that requires your immediate attention.

Speaking of email notifications, if you need to share your screen during the meeting, you should consider shutting down your email application first. Otherwise, you run the risk of the meeting attendees seeing your email notifications popping up as they come in, and you never know what information those might divulge.

On a video call

If you’ve read my earlier post on successful video calling, you already know how to make eye contact with the camera. But what if you can’t maintain that eye contact the whole time? I’d say that’s okay if it’s relevant to your conversation – for instance, if you need to look at your notes. Remember to look back at the camera every now and then so you won’t look like you’re ignoring your caller.

My fellow etiquette enthusiast “Polly Calm” has a few more “vidiquette” tips you may want to consider.

Setting up your profile

Uploading a user photo will help your far-flung colleagues put a face to your name. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – take a selfie with your smartphone if you have to! However, I recommend saving that cute picture of your dog or your kids for Facebook. Also, be mindful of what you post in the “free text” area of your profile. If you wouldn’t want your mother to read it, don’t post it there.

As communications technology continues to evolve, the rules of business etiquette are sure to evolve in turn. For instance, how should you react to seeing a telepresence robot in the hallway? Or, what would you do if you tried to shake hands with someone only to realize they were a life-sized hologram? Questions like these will arise sooner than you may think!


About the Author

Stacey Kendall is a Product Marketing Manager at TPx Communications. Her role is focused on marketing for TPx’s suite of Communications & Collaboration offerings, including the UCx Hosted Unified Communications Service and SmartVoice SIP Trunking. Stacey holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a specialization in Information Technology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She resides in the greater Boston area.

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