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UK workforce keeps a digital distance


Digital communication at work is making us a nation of cowards says social expert Liz Brewer, who fronts a new digital age etiquette guide.

Whether it is sacking staff by text message or delegating a difficult task, digital communication has made us a nation of cowards, according to a new report out today from the Post Office.

The findings show that many UK residents are maintaining that famous British reserve by relying on text messages and email to get themselves out of sticky situations – with 73 per cent of people admitting to delegating difficult tasks at work by email and text, and 52 per cent using these forms of technology to contact new business prospects.

The report, called Etiquette in the Digital Age, is authored by etiquette expert Liz Brewer, whose credits include ITV’s Ladette to Lady. It is available now on the Post Office website

Stewart Fox-Mills, head of telephony at the Post Office, said: “Digital technology is constantly giving us new ways to communicate, which enriches our day to day lives. But we’ve found that many people are in fact using modern technology to keep a ‘digital distance’ and avoid face-to-face or verbal confrontation.

“From text messaging to telephone calls, email to the old fashioned letter, there’s a whole world of communication methods at our fingertips. The Post Office has worked with Liz Brewer to put together this guide to 21st century communications – so now there’s no excuse for getting it wrong.”

At Work
In the workplace, people admit to relying on email and texting for all manner of awkward tasks, including:

•Delegating tasks – 73%
•Contacting new business prospects – 52%
•Apologising for mistakes - 51%
•Resigning from a job – 13%
•Firing an employee – 2%

This is the first time in history that four generations - those who lived through World War II, baby boomers, generation X and generation Y - are together in the workplace. Each generation’s communication style can differ dramatically and can cause chaos and confusion leading to ramifications of inappropriate behaviour, poor judgment, or cultural insensitivity,” said Stewart Fox-Mills

What the experts say

Etiquette expert Liz Brewer comments: “There are many more modes of communication open to us than there were five, 10 or 20 years ago and this offers everyone more ways to interact.

“Whilst this makes organising a birthday party or meeting up for a drink much easier than in days gone by, it also means that it is easy to use the shield of technology to put off what should be addressed face to face – in fact, the sending of a text message seems to be the 21st century manifestation of the famous British stiff upper lip.

“Whenever I am teaching people about etiquette, I always remind them that the key is selecting the appropriate method of communication for the task in hand. If you’re dishing out discipline, it should be face to face but,of course, these days there’s no need to send a formal letter if you are simply arranging a night out at the pub.”


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