Does Technology Make You More Impolite at Work?

January 28, 2010 ( – Electronic gadgets may be all the rage these days, but a new survey suggests they haven’t exactly made the office a haven for etiquette that would make Miss Manners smile.

Robert Half Technology, an IT employment firm, said a telephone survey it commissioned of more than 1,400 chief information officers at companies with 100 or more employees found that 51% have seen more examples of a workplace faux pas involving the use of technology during the last few years.    

Asked whether the use of cell phones, smart phones, laptops and other handheld devices has led to more breaches of workplace protocol, the CIOs said breaches have:

  • Increased significantly, 22%
  • Increased  somewhat, 29%
  • Remained the same, 42%
  • Decreased somewhat, 4%

The firm identifies five major types of tech-related rudeness: multitaskers who email or text message during company meetings; workers who send excessive emails rather than having face-to-face conversations; workers who talk on their phone loudly in all settings; workers who can’t go anywhere without having their Bluetooth earpiece attached to their heads; and workers who let their phones vibrate without shutting them off during meetings.

“While electronic gadgets are designed to make employees more productive, they also may serve as a distraction,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a news release. “Although the rules of tech etiquette vary from business to business, it’s always a good idea to give people you’re collaborating with your undivided attention.”