Written by: Melanie Morton, Social Media Manager

What happens outside of the workplace stays outside of the workplace. When you leave your busy 9-5 job, it is up to you to decide what you do in your spare time. Whether you enjoy walking your dog, binging Netflix, or going out for a pint (or three), it is your personal choice to keep your private life…private. Yet what if this all changed, what if your private life started becoming the talk of the office? In more ways than one, the work environment has changed internally since the introduction of social media. When social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram started appearing, they revolved around the concept of sharing snippets of your daily life with those you care about. Then in the blink of an eye, social media took over and projected that concept of choice exclusivity and transported it into another realm. No longer is there a way to escape from the 9-5 routine, as those outlets are being used within the workplace, through Yammer and Facebook, as ways to collaborate and communicate amongst co-workers.

So, what happens when the accounts you coveted to be a secret, become a norm throughout the workplace? You get into the office and share small talk with a co-worker. From talking about the weather and funny meme on Instagram, it’s going well until, as you are about to leave, you get hit with, “Hey, what’s your Instagram? One sec let me follow it”. Instantly you freeze. At first, you might think that there could be no harm in this, but you start to feel uncomfortable. It seems pushy to say not, but at the same time, you feel as if work is following you home. Though this may seem like a minor struggle, the debate of personal social media and the workplace is taking over at all levels. It is hard to define the rule for social etiquette in the workplace, especially within the millennial crowd. For millennials, the most frequent users of social networks, feel comfortable with someone new, instead of asking for your number, in 2020, the primary medium of communication goes directly to your Instagram account.

When trying not to interfere with your relationship inside the workplace, how does one say no? The decision to be friends outside of work is mutual and sometimes there becomes a pressure from one side to oblige. If your accounts are set on public, then clearly, there should be no issue as the entire world can see your content, yet if you only accept a select few, this can become tricky. It may feel rude at the time to be choosy and say no, yet your social life is your choice. It does not create exclusivity inside the workplace. When put in a situation of trying to say no, without being too abrupt, you can ask to use LinkedIn instead. LinkedIn is more of a professional platform that builds connections of co-workers, which can be beneficial in the future. If you catch yourself accepting without thinking, there are limitations that social media platforms take. On Instagram, you can block specific individuals from seeing your stories and make a “close friends list” for those you want to share more with.

As social media becomes more prevalent by the hour, etiquette does become a growing issue. By letting one co-worker follow you, it doesn’t mean that another should be entitled to as well. Most importantly, bosses should wait to be “friended” rather than doing the friending themselves. Friending is a personal matter that should not be inflicted on. So next time you feel in a jam about clicking accept, take a step back, understand your rights, and kindly decline if it doesn’t feel right.