Business etiquette for working in an office environment is well established: show up on time, wear pants, put your name on your lunch in the fridge – those kinds of things. But working from home is a new thing for many people and businesses. These tips for business etiquette for remote work support professionalism.
#1 Watch tone
Making a joke or sarcastic comment to someone via text, online chat, or email is different now. When we’re together in the office setting, we can “read” other cues to determine when someone is being serious or not. Tone won’t always translate effectively without accompanying body language such as facial expressions. You can use smiley emojis or playful gifs where appropriate, but it’s safer to be wary of jokes or comments that rely on tone to work.
#2 Be proactive
There are many ways this applies in the online video conference environment. For one thing, test your microphone before joining the meeting. We’ve reached the point where you should be familiar with the basics of the business online meeting tool. The time has passed for you to begin each meeting with the frustrating, “can you hear me now? Wait, how about now?”
Also, pay attention also to your surroundings. Maybe your “home office” is in the basement laundry room. It’s the only place you can get the peace you need to concentrate! At the same time, you should check your camera view before a meeting. Do you want co-workers or clients seeing your dirty clothes bin or delicates laid out to dry?
#3 Pay attention
Give an online meeting your full attention. In a meeting in the office, you all sat together in a conference room with no other distractions. Now, it’s super-tempting to check your email or Facebook, especially if you’re getting popup notifications while you’re in the meeting. When you “take a peek” at another browser during a meeting you can miss key points.
You’ll also want to silence your mobile phone and put it out of reach. For important meetings, put a note on the door of your home or apartment asking visitors not to knock. After all, you can’t predict when that online order of toilet paper will finally arrive.
#4 Avoid distractions
The above point talked about distractions that might steal your attention. You should also be aware of all the ways you can be distracting to others. A busy, cluttered background on a video chat can be an issue. There are articles out now discussing the books visible on celebrity library backgrounds!
Typing on a keyboard or clicking persistently with a mouse is also distracting. You don’t notice these noises, but they're easily picked up on a computer microphone. Using a headset will help, you can go old school and use a pen and paper to take your notes during online meetings.
Also, take steps to warn others about your upcoming meetings. Feed kids beforehand if you’re going to set up in the kitchen. That way, all your colleagues don’t have to see teens raiding the pantry over your shoulder. Put animals outside. No matter how cute you think it is to have your furry officemate wrapped around your shoulders for the call.
#5 Dress professionally
We mentioned the well-established “wear pants to work” rule already. This one persists in the home office setting. Search the internet and you’ll find videos of people caught wearing board shorts – or worse – for work calls. You might think your computer camera is only capturing you from the waist up, but what if you have to move?
Working from home allows many of us to live the dream of staying in our PJs all day. Still, you need to look the part for meetings. As an aside, getting dressed for your work from home will also help to put you in a professional frame of mind.
In fact, all these business etiquette ideas help you to switch gears and think work. Working from home can be challenging, as the boundaries between personal and professional blend. Still, prioritize being respectful and attentive during work time to get more done. That means more time available to binge-watch television in your boxer shorts.
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