Emotional Intelligence in the Digital Workplace: 5 Tips on Developing your Workplace EQ

Identifying Your Home Emotion

The digital workplace is here, and it’s not going away anytime soon. With the digital workplace comes surprising social aspects you would usually associate with a regular workplace. Now, there’s no digital water cooler for you to stand by and gossip when your break comes around, but there is a people aspect to your digital workplace that may require a bit of emotional intelligence to navigate.

Emotional intelligence (commonly referred to as EQ) is something you learn to develop in everyday workplaces, but it’s going to be fairly different if you’re on the other end of a screen. This isn’t anything new; the digital era is bringing about many new concepts and ways to interact and do our jobs. The very idea of working from home seemed like a dream job to a majority of people, and now it’s becoming commonplace. However, if your job still involves frequent collaboration with others, you’re going to want to learn how to develop a sense of emotional intelligence when navigating it.


What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a term coined by John Mayer and Peter Salovey, described as the ability to perceive, understand, express, and regulate emotions. It may sound complex, but it can be boiled down to knowing how to be social and empathetic.

Daniel Goleman, a world-renowned psychologist, popularized the psychological theory in his best-selling books. It was he who came up with 5 components of emotional intelligence that you may have heard before.

Whether or not you follow the psychology behind it all, these components are still helpful in teaching those in the workplace how to develop their own work-style EQ. The same goes for the digital workplace.

Here are the five components and how they can help you thrive in your new workplace.


Social Skills

Developing your social skills online is easier said than done. Some people just aren’t that social even when face-to-face. Now, over the internet, a lot of the social aspects you would usually get when in person is lost. Unless you’re on a call, you’re going to lose sight of the social cues of your coworkers. These cues can include tone, facial expression, and body language. If you consider yourself an introvert, trying to socialize with your coworkers might just be your worst nightmare.

In these situations, all you can do is listen and pay attention. Try to be expressive, typing or talking stiffly may cause others to be stiff in return. Should you be helping your coworkers when a problem arises, make sure you consider all sides of a situation. After all, if it involves another coworker or employer, they aren’t there to defend themselves.

Try to be friendly, but still professional, and don’t be afraid to attempt small talk when collaborating with someone. Have empathy, but always remember to maintain your professional relationships.



Empathy is a factor that is core to emotional intelligence. This not only includes being able to read the emotions of another person online, but also being able to process and understand them. Again, this can be difficult when details like tone and body language are lost past the screen, so you’re going to have to rely on context clues.

If someone seems fairly off, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and address it. It may be nothing at all, but it could also be a problem that they’re struggling with. Working from home develops a sense of isolation, after all, and that can be difficult for many to manage.

While you should keep that sense of empathy, make sure that you’re keeping whatever follows in the bounds of a professional relationship.



While working from home can seem like a dream job, there are some who lack the motivation it takes to do their work properly. This can also mean the lack of motivation to socialize with your coworkers when it isn’t out of pure necessity.

In this case, it’s important for a team to motivate each other. Try to help foster a workplace culture of sharing ideas and open discussions. If you’re able to support them, there’s a good chance they’ll support you, simple as that.

Self-motivation can be difficult, too, especially when you’re surrounded by so many distractions. In this case, it’s important to instill routines into your daily workplace habits, such as using a digital timer to gauge how long you’ve worked and when it’s time for a break.



When you’re online, it’s possible to really forget that you’re talking with real people, and you can wind up acting on impulse and talking to your coworkers in ways that you wouldn’t say to their faces. In these cases, it’s about mindfulness and learning from your mistakes.

For one, you need to understand how your messages might come off. Quick, stilted responses can come off as rude or make you seem more upset than you actually are.

If you’re ever on a video call, you need to learn how to keep your expressions under control.

If you are actually upset, don’t try to interact with your coworkers. Even if you’re not verbally talking, you still tend to leave obvious clues about how you’re feeling. Practice mindfulness. Use your work-from-home status to your advantage and step away from the computer for a bit. Unless you’re on a video call, it’s not like anyone will notice.



A key aspect to proper emotional intelligence is a sense of self-awareness. When you work from home, it can be a bit hard to know where you stand with your coworkers, employers, and the company itself. Meetings and chats tend to be fairly brief as well, so you may find yourself without a sense of whether or not you’re even doing a good job. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses is essential for a high EQ.

In these situations, it’s important to speak to coworkers and your employer about these things. You’re going to want to ask for feedback often; make sure you can take constructive criticism and use it to improve how you go about your work.