How to Establish Phone and Email Etiquette in the Office

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No one likes an office with pages and pages of behavioral rules to follow. Still, employees and managers alike will be a lot happier if they’re aware of some commonsense guidelines for dealing with the ubiquitous messages on our computers, tablets and smartphones. Think of these points as manners for the modern world.


  • Texting at work. In general, it is not advisable for employees to use working hours to read and respond to text messages. Everyone should save texting for their time away from their desks, such as a prearranged break or lunch hour. Of course, at many companies, texting can be a quick way to work with a far-flung staff, such as sales reps in the field. But staff should text at their desks, not during meetings, and only if it’s work-related.
  • Phones in meetings. Meetings can be frustrating, but that doesn’t mean you should be looking at your phone the entire time. Answering a phone call or a text during a meeting is at the top of the list of unprofessional things you can do on the job. Employees should leave their cell phones in their offices when they are called into meetings.
  • Emergencies. Of course, there are always extenuating circumstances, and everyone realizes that emergency situations can crop up. Employees should let their supervisors know that they are expecting an important text or call, and step away from the meeting when it comes in. But no one should take advantage of this possible situation to use their devices all the time.
  • Email and the Internet. In today’s modern workplace, almost everyone needs access to the Internet to do their job. However, employees should understand that company equipment is not for personal emails or browsing unless it is during a break. Unauthorized use can actually have serious repercussions, such as if an employee uses company computers and email to send out offensive material.
  • Company emails. Most employees are assigned a company email address, and managers need to make sure no one uses it for communication that is unrelated to the job. Any email that goes through the company network is the property of the company. Also, any statement an employee sends through the company email account may carry an implicit company endorsement.

What kinds of rules have you set up in your office?

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