The Definitive Guide to Business

10 common office communication mistakes to stop making right now

Creative businesswoman standing at desk, using laptop and computer in open plan office
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If you want your coworkers to like you more, it could be as simple as making sure you haven't hit caps lock.

Few things rankle your colleagues more than poor office etiquette and, it turns out, the worst thing you can do is use speakerphone in an open or shared office. This behavior drives 75 percent of women and 65 percent of men mad, according to a survey of 811 employees conducted by Signs.com, a company that creates customized signage and presentation materials.

In the era of open offices, any behavior that unnecessarily adds to the existing noise pollution, which so often comes with a large room full of people typing and talking, will irritate your coworkers the most. After speakerphone chats, the next most obnoxious thing you could do was gossip — 70 percent of woman and 66 percent of men saw this as unacceptable.

The fact that these two actions dominated the list only further supports what a study by Oxford Economics found last year: The noise levels in open offices have reached such heights that 63 percent of employees said they lacked quiet space for work, having a "negative effect on their productivity, satisfaction and well-being."

Of course, people may also hate gossip reasons besides the actual sound of it. Such petty and unpleasant talk tends to divide offices, alienate employees, lower morale and depress productivity — all things no worker or manager wants.

As a side effect of that noise and the lack of privacy in open offices, many employees have significantly less face-to-face interaction, as much as 70 percent less than when they have spatial boundaries, according to studies recently published by The Harvard Business School. Instead, they turn to electronic communications, which can surge in usage by as much as 50 percent when a business moves to an open floor-plan.

That reliance on digital communication likely helps explain why workers take their formatting and inbox flow so seriously. Almost 70 percent of women and 62 percent of men found that using all caps in digital messages, be it in Slack or email, was irritating and unacceptable. While 65 percent of woman and men found that using the "reply-all feature" to respond to messages not all team members actually needed to be included on was another huge pet peeve.

Sending emails to the entire team, improperly using bold or italics in messages, and sending joke emails to the entire team will also piss off just under half of your coworkers.

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