Our parents taught us about polite behaviour, but their influence is often lost once we get to the workplace. For many, tech gadgets are the source of bad manners at the office, but they don’t have to be. Here are five ways to avoid common technology blunders so that manners aren’t forgotten the minute a cellphone rings:

1. Be discrete in meetings:

We’ve all been there. You’re in a meeting and your phone flashes with a voicemail. Instinct tells you it’s an urgent request, but you’re unable to leave the room without appearing rude. With tools like visual voicemail, employees can discreetly read messages in a text-based format on their phone, avoiding the need to leave the meeting.

2. Inform colleagues of your whereabouts:

Tools like instant messenger are useful to notify colleagues of your location, such as the car, the office, at home or off-site. This way, others can see if you're able to be reached in real-time, instead of guessing your availability.

3. Avoid clogging up your co-worker’s inbox:

Many workers are guilty of sending one-liner emails, or worse, sending requests in the subject line of an e-mail. Consider using instant messaging as an alternative to avoid taxing valuable e-mail storage space, which can be used for important or lengthier communication.

4. Don’t leave messages unreturned:

Not returning messages in a timely manner can make you seem unresponsive to the sender. Ensure all technology tools, such as e-mail and voicemail are accessible on a mobile device so you can answer urgent requests regardless of your location.

5. Make an effort for face-to-face contact:

Instead of audio conferencing with business contacts, staff should opt to video conference to make the meeting more dynamic and interactive. Video conferencing also provides valuable face-to-face contact, which is key for maintaining solid relationships.

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