While we’ve all just about mastered the two-metre rule (some of us better than others!) and queuing is second nature to us Brits, there’s a whole new set of rules to master in the new normal of the workplace. Here is our indispensable step-by-step etiquette guide.


So, you’ve commandeered the tidiest corner of the house, you’ve ordered a flattering selfie light and you’ve eliminated most of the chins from your camera angle. Now all you need to do is make sure your offspring don’t make an embarrassing appearance in that crucial online presentation.

Ditto partners, housemates or lodgers. Maintaining an aura of professional calm is much easier when you don’t have any ‘cameo’ appearances by others in your household mid-way through a virtual meeting

Now we know you’ve perfected the art of banana bread, your tomato plants are coming on a treat and you’d give Mrs Hinch a run for her money in the cleaning stakes but please, focus on the job in hand when on a video call.

No matter how much you’re missing office gossip, resist the temptation to dish the dirt on a colleague while in a group call – you never know who may join halfway through. And that goes for private messaging too – the ‘reply to everyone’ function is just a slip of a trackpad away!

While ‘You’re on mute!’ Is probably the most uttered phrase of 2020, the no-sound function does have its uses. So be sure to use it when not speaking, especially if traffic noise or home improvements can be heard in the background.


Tone of voice is tricky enough in face to face conversation, let alone composing an email so always give your message one last read over before hitting the send button, lest you cause offence.

While it’s tempting to reply to every email straightaway, nothing gives greater satisfaction than an actioned inbox after all, a little pause might yield dividends. Like a finely composed handwritten note, some of the best email replies take time and thought.

Since the dawn of email in major organisations became the norm over 25 years ago, people have replied all in the heat of the moment and then regretted it. Let this be one email habit we consign to the past.

Changing the subject is easy when chatting in person. One minute you can be discussing an upcoming project, the next you’re deep diving into the latest Netflix smash. It’s much trickier on email so if you swap topics, it’s better to start afresh with a relevant subject line so that people don’t miss important information.

While your spare bedroom might have become your far from ergonomic workstation and your commute has been cut to thirty seconds, it’s never been more important to get that work life balance right. So, close the laptop and give yourself a cut off point for checking email every night.

Mobile phones and messaging

Modern technology isn’t always a blessing, especially if a call comes in when you’re on that one-to-one video call with your boss. If in doubt, silent or airplane modes are your friend.

What did we do without WhatsApp? A team group chat is a great way to keep in contact. Keep it regular and, when you can, light-hearted, for instance a funny meme to welcome a Friday.

That said, don’t overdo it on the group WhatsApp messages. Like an open packet of biscuits in the office, a few at a time is fine, too many and you’ll make your colleagues sick.

We all know dry January doesn’t entirely mitigate a year-round indulgence, and so a total digital detox isn’t going to beat our reliance on our phones either. But try and limit screen time where you can – swap one last refresh of Twitter before bed for a chapter of that novel you’ve been meaning to finish reading.

Like playing a vinyl record or watching anything with Judi Dench in it, sometimes you just crave a classic experience. The same goes for communication, which is why a good old-fashioned phone call is sometimes best to check in on friends or colleagues.

Social media

While it’s been far too hot for formal workwear for most of these last few months, be aware of who follows you on social media. We agree your summer wardrobe does indeed show off your amazing tan but less is more when it comes to skimpy selfies.

A scroll of Instagram has become as much a part of a tea break as milk and two sugars so don’t feel guilty. Getting away from the task in hand for a few minutes can often mean coming back with that lightbulb moment.

If we can add one thing to the social media maxim of ‘be kind’ it’s ‘be sincere’. Fakers are easy to spot. It’s OK to take some time to react to what’s happening in the world rather than copying and pasting what others have said.

Social media can often feel like a bad dinner party: lots of voices and not much listening. If you disagree strongly with something you read don’t reply with something rash that you’ll later regret. Take time to reflect on what to say, your future self will thank you for it!

Forget the stiff upper lip. Today it’s OK to share your feelings on social media – even royalty are at it. Chances are many others are in the same boat and it may help them to know they’re not alone!