What does proper work-from-home etiquette look like, anyway? We know it’s difficult to navigate the concept of ‘professionalism’ when many of us are currently working in makeshift home offices, at dining room tables, and probably in pajamas!
Since things will probably be like this for a while, developing a sense of structure around our new normal’s meeting etiquette is a necessary next step.
When it comes to fostering professional communication across your organization in a virtual venue, there are a few areas of work from home etiquette that you’ll need to address. They can be broadly sorted into three buckets:
1. How to act
This should go without saying, right? Respect that everyone has pressure on their time, and make an effort to be punctual even if you are working remotely.
Mute yourself when joining, particularly if there are multiple people in the call already. Then say hello when there’s a lull.
For most workplaces, casual clothing is perfectly acceptable. Consider what’s appropriate for your office and corporate culture. Hoodies may be fine, but explicit graphic tees are probably not the best idea for a meeting. And remember, you can’t know for sure that you won’t need to get up for something mid-Zoom session, which means you’d rather not be wearing pajama bottoms should you need to stand up.
Try to minimize the amount of background noise for the sake of your colleagues. If you’ve scheduled conference calls, try not to run the laundry machine that’s 6 feet behind you (just me?). Don’t worry too much about a few stray dog barks or kids laughing in the background. Most people understand, and we’ve got mute buttons for a reason.
2. How to engage
Recognize that different people are going to have different challenges working from home. Some may struggle with space, technical setup, internet speeds, other occupants, and other responsibilities. Do your best to be understanding during video conferencing, phone calls, instant messaging, etc.
According to a research by the Harvard Business Review, remote workers often unintentionally make it hard for their supervisors, colleagues, and employees to maintain boundaries, by doing things like sending work emails outside work hours, for example. Recognize that hard time limits still exist, even if people aren’t commuting or rushing to another meeting. There is a very real risk, when everyone’s office is their home, of blurring the lines between work time and home time, so respect the boundaries your colleagues might set between the two.
Make space in the conversation during video calls. It can be hard to pick up cues that someone is done talking or waiting to speak even without video lag, so leave a bit more time after asking questions or making statements to allow people to turn on their mic and respond. Check out this blog for more on remote working and internal comms etiquette.
Acknowledging the difficulty of the situation and making it explicitly clear that you’ll be flexible and understanding with your colleagues can do a lot to cut away additional stress. Let them focus on the task at hand and not whether the chew toy they’ve given their pandemic puppy will keep them quiet for the full length of the meeting.
3. How to live
If you live with a partner or roommate(s), take some time to go over daily schedules and needs. Check if they have a client call and need a virtual office space to be quieter, for example. Give them an idea of when you’ll be (un)available, and ask them for the same information.
The people in your home are dealing with the same #WFH struggles as you, so be kind and patient with one another as we navigate this new landscape!
In the end, I would like to add that these are just a few recommendations that can help you improve your work from home etiquette and avoid burnout. There might be several other ways employees make the most of their remote working in these unprecedented times. Do you have any more tips to add to this list? Comment below.
Also, do not forget to take our complimentary internal communications assessment to see how your internal comms efforts stack up. Or, get in touch with us today through a FREE DEMO and we’ll be more than happy to help!