Before the COVID-19 crisis, we certainly used technology to communicate at work. We made phone calls. We sent emails and instant messages. And maybe, occasionally, we participated in an online meeting or video conference call.
But today, with many of us working from home, technology has suddenly become the primary way to communicate with clients and coworkers. Technology is now absolutely crucial to getting our work done. For that reason, many of us are using workplace technology much more frequently than we ever have in the past. (Before the COVID-19 crisis happened, I almost never attended a video conference call. In the last two weeks, I’ve attended more of them than I can even count.)
For that reason, the small annoyances that often go along with the use of workplace technology are suddenly becoming more irritating than usual. Sometimes it’s the technology itself that’s at fault. But more often than not, it’s the people using the technology that are the source of the irritation.
Author Alexandra Samuel compiled a list of the technology-related behaviors that can drive other people crazy. To avoid annoying your coworkers, try NOT to do the following:
- Add tons of names to the cc field when sending emails – Although it only takes a minute to add several peoples’ names to the cc field of an email and you might feel like you’re responsibly covering all your bases, it’s generally not a good idea. When you cc lots of people, it clogs up other people’s inboxes. And if someone actually hits “reply all” in response to your email, the situation only gets worse. To avoid causing an explosion of emails, try to only cc people when absolutely necessary.
- Take a long time to respond to a message or request – You might be really busy. But if you take days to respond to coworkers’ emails, you’re going to cause them to feel a lot of stress and frustration. Try your best to respond as soon as you can. And if you know that you won’t be able to get back to them for a while, at least send a message telling them that you received their request and that you’ll get back to them in a few days.
- Send the same request in multiple ways – If you email your coworker with a request and you don’t get a rapid response, don’t immediately send the same request in an instant message and a text. The coworker that you’re bombarding with messages will most likely be annoyed and confused. He or she may not even be sure how to respond. (Should your coworker reply to the email? Or the text? Or both?) Try to limit yourself to one form of communication.
- Subject your coworkers to your cell phone noises during conference calls – During a conference call, it’s important to mute your line when you’re not talking. But it’s also a good idea to silence your cell phone. Otherwise, when it’s your turn to talk, others may have to listen to your phone ringing and beeping in the background. It’s distracting.
- Resist using new forms of technology – Change can be scary and new forms of technology can be intimidating. But when you’re working remotely, it’s important to be open to trying new ways of communicating and sharing information. If you’re unwilling to try, it can really cause problems when you’re collaborating with your coworkers on projects. So do your best to give that new technology a chance. And if you consider yourself to be tech-savvy, try to help out your coworkers who might be having a harder time. Everyone is probably feeling kind of stressed out these days. So a little bit of kindness would go a long way.
Samuel, A. (2020, March 6). The tech habits of co-workers that drive us crazy. The Wall Street Journal, pp. R1-R3.