Traditional business etiquette is the foundation for clear communication, rapport, and trust. Many field-tested etiquette practices translate directly to the digital space.
Discover how etiquette for the digital space helps you build strong relationships with your customers and teams.
What Is Business Etiquette?
Business etiquette is the way we conduct ourselves in professional settings. The most successful people value etiquette. Here at Local View, we find that business etiquette in the digital space helps us express integrity, build connections, and work together.
What Is Different in the Digital Space?
As more people are working online, remotely, or in a hybrid arrangement, people want guidance on etiquette. A popular term for digital citizenship and digital etiquette is Netiquette.
The big differences in etiquette in the digital space include:
- Never meeting in person with your teammates
- Not meeting face-to-face with prospects, clients, and customers
- Relying on digital media to build rapport and trust
- Communicating by email, text, and video
The transformation to working in the digital space has happened much faster than many thought leaders ever expected.
5 Basics for Business Etiquette in the Digital Space
In the digital space, we rely on our digital messages, intention, and process skills to build bridges with coworkers and clients. it’s never been more important to respect time, be human, respect privacy, be emotionally sensitive, and present a professional image.
These practices do not take a lot of time, money, or energy. Instead, they are practices rooted in care for the people you work with, the environment you share, and the trust that grows with digital business etiquette.
1. Respect Time
Time is precious. We are all affected by time — whether we are in a leadership position or a new hire. When you commit to respecting time, people around you recognize and appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Respect time by showing up on time, delivering timely information, staying in touch promptly, and being explicit about timed expectations.
In traditional business, many s professionals like to get to any meeting 10 minutes early. This shows respect for their clients, team members, and stakeholders.
On a practical note, these ten minutes are valuable. This is the time to catch your breath, calm yourself, and organize your thoughts. The extra time is a way to be fully present for a meeting, Zoom call, or writing an email.
Other ways to respect time can include:
- Being sensitive to different time zones
- Not sending messages during the off-work time
- Sharing a clear deadline for time-sensitive communications
2. Be Human
In many digital interactions, you’re not in the same room. Traditional ways of reading facial expressions, interpreting body language, or understanding nuances are not possible.
What can you do to cultivate the human touch?
Be aware of the other person as a living human being. Whether your interaction takes place by email, phone, social media, or Zoom—another individual is receiving it.
Consider how your digital message affects the person, their feelings, and their experience.
3. Consider Privacy
In traditional business etiquette, some information is marked confidential. In the digital space, confidentiality can be more challenging. A private email may be easily forwarded or shared with other people.
The solution? Consider privacy issues. Evaluate what you share, how you share it, and when you share it. According to Virginia Shea’s book, Netiquette, it is essential to be aware of context.
Consider privacy in the digital space:
- If you have access to other people’s private information or passwords, show respect.
- Do not use technology to listen in or spy on other people’s communications.
- Protect your clients’ privacy.
4. Be Emotionally Sensitive
If you are a leader, manager, or in a position of power, be sensitive to others. Whether you are leading a team or a team member, learn more about emotional intelligence.
Do not abuse your power.
Here at Local View, we value being a friend and support for our clients and partners. We believe it makes a difference to interact in ways that help people feel comfortable and confident.
Classic business etiquette practices apply especially if you are in a power position:
- Don’t interrupt people or finish their sentences
- Don’t call people names or embarrass them
- Build on ideas instead of shooting them down
- Seek to understand how they feel
- Discover how to be aware of your feelings
- Learn skills of emotional intelligence
Be sensitive to loneliness and isolation, big issues for many people working remotely.
- As a team member, reach out to other colleagues to stay in touch.
- As a team leader, make it a point to practice inclusion. Invite people to meetings.
- Include remote workers in impromptu and formal gatherings.
Ask your team for input about how to be inclusive. No doubt, they’ll happily tell you!
5. Be Professional
While practices vary across industries and countries, many professionals like to wear professional business attire during work hours.
This may seem kind of old-fashioned or traditional. Especially if you’re working from home and used to wearing your sweats all day long.
Consider the value of dressing professionally — even in your home office.
- Wearing professional attire gets you in the mood for working productively.
- If you have an impromptu video call, you won’t feel embarrassed or ill-prepared.
- Professional attire lets your family and housemates know that you are officially on the clock. This can help boost your productivity and focus.
Think about the professional image of your website and emails.
For instance, look at your emails in terms of appearance:
- Make subject lines interesting and engaging
- Don’t write in all capitals
- Consider the overall tone of your email—length, signature, clarity
Spruce up your outfit – both personally and digitally to practice a professional image.
Being able to work effectively in a digital space starts with valuing human connection. Business etiquette is all about working together in a way that helps everyone grow, flourish and learn.
Let’s talk about how we can support your business’s success.