Work From Home: Revisiting Business Etiquette

Online Meeting Etiquette

Working from home is a brand new new thing for many people and businesses. This blog article describes a variety of professional tips for business etiquette for remote work.

Proper business etiquette in an office environment is well established, with some of the norms being:

  • show up on time.
  • wear business attire (including pants!).
  • don’t take other people’s items in the fridge!
  • watch your language.
  • don’t bring your kids into your office (unless its bring your kids to work day)!
  • no drinking alcohol.

Working from home though can cause issues with some of these norms or people may think they aren’t as important any more.

1) Watch the tone of your voice

Making a joke or sarcastic comment to someone via video call, email, text or online chat is different now. When we face to face in an office setting, we can “read” other cues to determine whether someone is being serious or not. Your tone won’t always translate effectively without the accompanying body language such as facial expressions. You can use smiley emojis or playful gifs where appropriate, but it is always safer to be wary of jokes or comments that rely on tone to work.

2) Be proactive

There are many ways that being proactive helps in the online video conferencing environment. For one thing, test your microphone and speakers before joining the meeting. We are now at the point where hopefully everyone should be you should be familiar with the basics of online meetings. The time has passed for users 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 or your bedroom as it is the only quiet place in your house. Thus you should check your surroundings to make sure your co-workers and clients don’t see your dirty clothes or unmade bed in the background.

Also make sure a bright light or sunlight from a window doesn’t effect the lighting in the video.

These factors will also portray a more professional image for you to the other users in the video conferencing call and make the meeting run quicker and more smoothly.

3) Pay attention during the meeting

Try to give the online meeting your full attention, just as you would if you were sitting in the office. Yes, it may be tempting to check your email or Facebook, especially if you see a popup notifications while you are in the meeting. When you “take a peek” at something else during the meeting, you can miss key points.

Silence your mobile phone and put it out of reach during the meeting. For important meetings, think about putting a note on the door of your home or apartment asking visitors not to disturb you.

4) How to avoid distractions

The above point talked about distractions that might steal your attention. You should also be aware of other ways in which you can be distracted. A messy and cluttered background on a video chat can be an issue as people look at the background rather than concentrate on the meeting – there are articles out now discussing the books visible on celebrity backgrounds!

Typing on a keyboard or clicking persistently with a mouse can also be distracting. You may not notice these noises, but they are easily picked up on a computer microphone. Using a headset will help and you can go old school and use a pen and paper to take  notes during online meetings.

Also, take steps to warn others about your meetings. Feed your kids beforehand and organise something for them to do  – this way, all your colleagues don’t have to see children interrupting you for food or saying they are “bored”! Put animals outside, no matter how cute you think it is to have your furry friend around , it is distracting for both you and the others during the call.

5) Dress professionally!

Search the internet and you will find videos of people caught wearing board shorts – or far 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 during the call (or forget to turn off the camera at the end)?

Working from home allows many of us to live the dream of staying in our PJ’s all day. Still, you need to look professional for online meetings. Also, getting dressed while working 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, prioritise being respectful and attentive during work time to get more done. That means more time later, to binge-watch Netflix in your boxer shorts.

Are you located in or around Adelaide in South Australia and need help setting up remote work technology or troubleshooting online conference tools? Our IT experts can help. Contact us today!

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