Belfast Telegraph

How to avoid an office tech blunder

By Adrian Weckler

How is your workplace tech etiquette? Do you sign off with Xs at the end of emails? How about asking colleagues to print out and rescan documents? Here are seven issues currently plaguing workplace tech communications.

1. Punctuating work emails with kisses

What is it with work texts and emails sporting 'XXX' kisses as sign-offs? Spouses or courting couples use 'XXX'. Supply chain managers probably shouldn't.

I know language is changing and the vernacular can add warmth or familiarity. But maybe the streams haven't crossed that much yet.

2 Watch out for 'poo' emoji

Emoji are now part of everyday discourse. And that means business communications too. Serious work tools from companies like Intercom now incorporate emoji as effective devices for companies to talk to their customers and vice versa.

But I've seen more than a few 'poo' emoji despatched by over-caffeinated marketing executives. This is probably fine in some circles but a little risky in others.

3. Bring your own wifi along to meetings

If the meeting you have planned in another's office requires internet access, bring your own as back-up. Don't start your meeting with a 10-minute technical-support fumble for wifi passwords from your host's IT department.

Bringing your own wifi is easy: it comes from your phone. Just switch on the 'personal hotspot' feature on your phone and connect your laptop to it. And no excuses about "not having enough mobile data". Above all, don't embarrass yourself by asking your host to connect to his or her phone for your wifi presentation.

4. Word attachments are just ignorant and ineffective

Getting an email attachment is like receiving a leaflet in your door to tell you there's a letter waiting for you in a postbox at the end of the road.

When the receiver has 150 emails a day to look at, your attaching something states that you believe the receiver should spend more time processing your email than others in his or her inbox. Attachments sometimes take a while to open.

When the receiver discovers it was all for a Microsoft Word text document that could have been pasted into the email, annoyance will start to ferment.

Ultimately, unless you are someone pretty important, your attachments just won't be opened.

Admittedly, sometimes there is no choice but to send something as an attachment. But usually, things can simply be pasted into an email.

5. Could you print out and scan back this email?

In the 1970s cartoon series Catch The Pigeon (actually called Dastardly And Muttley In Their Flying Machines), the villains tried numerous ways to hobble together contraptions that could operate as airborne devices.

A huge number of businesses like to use the same Sellotape approach to advancing formal agreements.

Instead of instant modern digital signature architecture (legally effective and cheaply available for over 15 years), we prefer to ask correspondents to 'print out' an email, sign it with a biro, 'scan' it 'back in' and re-email or fax it.

Worse, some organisations distinguish between a disallowed phone-camera 'scan' (through apps such as Scannable) and a photocopier machine 'scan' (from a hulking office device such as Kyocera).

The irony is that scanned 'wet-ink' signatures have no more validity than digital ones. And if you're really asking for a fax back, that sends warning bells to anyone you're doing business with anyway.

6. Emailing to say you left a voice message

So you left a voice message about something but you haven't heard back? Here's what not to do: follow-up with an email saying only that you left a voice message and with no more information about what that voice message contains or what it is about.

If a family member did this, you'd tut: so why would you think a work contact will play along? The upshot is that you're unlikely to get a response, either to your email or your call. Don't take it personally, though. Many people just don't listen to voice messages any more. Accept this and move on.

If it's important, your follow-on text or an email should contain your message or query.

7. If you want an email response, don't copy and paste text

Responding to an email is often an act of politeness or etiquette. Even if the email is of limited interest, a person will respond out of respect for a pre-existing relationship.

But that largely depends on it being a one-on-one email. If you include someone in a batch email (and it will be obvious by the way the email is written), it nullifies a large part of the obligation of etiquette on the part of the receiver to respond.

You may get a response, but only now if it suits the narrower self-interest of the receiver.

Think about this in terms of a favour being asked: you will respond to someone appealing to you directly - but maybe not to a chain-letter email.

Belfast Telegraph