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Companies' digital etiquette still a little rough around the edges

01 Jul 2020

Digital communication channels have doubtless been tested to the limit during the global lockdown, exposing both the technology and people’s attitudes en masse.

A survey from global tech consulting firm Adaptavist suggests that while 82% of 2800 polled workers are keen to work remotely in the future, there may be communication difficulties.

Survey respondents say that email is now their primary means of communication - 45% of managers say they are now communicating more via video calls and 28% are communicating more via messaging platforms to manage their direct reports.

However, messaging and other tools such as video conferencing are challenging how people communicate.

For example, approximately 10% of respondents under 35 years old consider it unacceptable for pets or children to appear on a video conference, however that level of unacceptability rises to approximately 25% of those over 45 years old. 

Across all age groups, the appearance of pets on a video conference is considered slightly more acceptable than children - on average 19% of respondents disapprove of children appearing, compared to just 16% for pets.

Australians are more comfortable with drinking alcohol on a video conference than other nationalities. Of Australian respondents, 50% feel this is never acceptable, compared to 65% in Canada, 62% in USA and 60% in the UK.

Despite having a generally more relaxed attitude towards etiquette on both video conferences and messaging platforms, a greater proportion of Australians have seen something unacceptable on a messaging platform at 61% compared to under 50% of Brits, Canadians and Americans. In most cases, they have seen something they considered unacceptable, but are not sure that others would feel the same.

Although 41% of respondents use more than four platforms each day, 44% have never had training on how to use them.

Millennials, in particular, are concerned about how they communicate online. Many have apologised to somebody over a digital communication that may have been misinterpreted. Conversely, millennials are more likely to misinterpret than older generations. 

The study also found that 17% of under 35-year-olds saw the formality of communications on digital platforms as about the same as in-person communications, compared to 30% of over 45-year-olds.

“The transition to remote work requires not just a technological shift, but more importantly an evolution in culture. So often organisations focus on implementing the tools without the proper frameworks in place for how to use them, let alone guidance on expected behaviours in this new working space. A company’s culture is its lifeblood, and transitioning that online requires a shift in the way we approach leadership and collaboration,” says Adaptavist CEO Simon Haighton-Williams.

“Communication channels are changing so fast that training on digital etiquette is often ignored, but being conscious of the behavioural shift your teams are undergoing in this transition and providing guiding principles and parameters can help.”