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Wireless Working: Rudeness Made Easy?

Tips for Staying Professional While Using Gadgets

Wireless Working: Rudeness Made Easy?

By Tom Musbach, Yahoo! HotJobs

Could there be such a thing as "too much connectedness"?  Once you've heard a coworker's flushing toilet amplified during a conference call, you might be inclined to answer "yes."

Wireless technology is making great strides in improving employee productivity and allowing us to work from home, the airport or a local coffee shop. More than half of US workers (55 percent) say their employers support a virtual workplace culture, according to a survey by Yahoo! HotJobs.

Bad Behaviors

But the widespread application of wireless gadgets to the workplace has also yielded countless lapses in decorum. In fact, 18 percent of the survey respondents admitted being reprimanded for bad manners related to use of their wireless devices.

Joe Robinson, work-life balance coach and author of Work to Live, has also noticed a decline in professional behavior.

"The siege of wireless communication is making us less aware of colleagues' privacy [and home versus work boundaries], and less attentive to what it is we're doing, whether we're distracted in a meeting or writing a rushed email with an abrupt tone that we didn't take time to edit before sending," he says.

The Worst Offenses

On the topic of wireless faux pas, respondents in the Yahoo! HotJobs survey ranked these five unacceptable behaviors, from most reprehensible to least.

  1. Accepting a personal call while in a meeting or presentation.
  2. Answering the phone or emails while at a business dinner.
  3. Talking on the phone while in the bathroom.
  4. Talking on the phone while in close quarters (such as a train, plane or bus).
  5. Answering a work call or email during personal time after work hours.

The ease of using wireless gadgets can make them addicting, as the nickname for a BlackBerry -- "CrackBerry" -- suggests. But disengaging when appropriate is critical for maintaining work-life balance and a good professional reputation.

Efficiency with Decorum

To help manage your wireless device habits, consider these tips from Debra Dinnocenzo, president of VirtualWorks! and author of How to Lead from a Distance:

  • Don't take a wireless device to an appointment when you are supposed to be focusing on someone else.
  • Don't give out your cellphone number; use it only for outgoing calls.
  • Use caller ID to screen and answer only critical calls.
  • Block out time when you will not allow interruptions.
  • Use text messages or email when possible -- they're less intrusive.

Robinson offers a final tip. He suggests that you check email at 45-minute intervals. "That's 11 possible interruptions a day as opposed to 96, if you check it every five minutes [in an eight-hour day]," he says.

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