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7 Unspoken Rules Of Remote Work Etiquette That You Must Live By

By November 13, 2018 No Comments

Remote work

The digital world of remote work has amazing benefits. We get to set our own schedules, streamline communication with our team leaders, peers or clients and even spend more time with our families. For those of us who are much more productive working this way, remote work has been a game changer in our lives.

What we may tend to forget, though, is that there are actual humans on the other lines of our communication venues – whether by email, phone, messaging or video chat. And those humans deserve our attention and respect, no matter where each of us is physically.

So, let us remember some basic rules of etiquette that will go a long way to maintain good relationships. And relationships make work so much more pleasant!

1. Be mindful of your environment during phone calls

Nothing is more irritating than for a team member or, worse, your supervisor, to have to hear all sorts of distracting background noise while trying to talk with you on the phone. If you are in a loud place, go outside or into your car where you can have a conversation in peace. If you are at home, at least try muting the mic whenever your dog starts barking or your kid screams for attention. Ultimately, you should invest in creating a private and quiet office den that will be off limit to others during your work hours.

2. Respect time zone differences

Set up calls, video chats and other communication with respect for your recipient’s time zone. Inconveniencing yourself for the sake of the other person’s comfort shows that you care about their comfort level. Can you imagine someone waking you up out of a deep sleep and expecting you to be focused and alert? Of course not. Check Time Zones for Humans if you are not sure whether your call will be appropriate at a certain time.  

3. Check your equipment ahead of time

If you are going to engage in audio or video chat with someone, at least take the time to make sure everything on your end is working right. Nothing can sour important communications more than technical difficulties.

4. Do your prep

You should have an agenda for each communication event. Even if it is initiated by someone else, you need to anticipate the reason for the “meeting” and be ready with answers, suggestions, etc. If you are initiating the call, write down your agenda, so that you don’t miss any points. This makes you look professional and on top of things. Plus, you are not wasting the other person’s time while you hem and haw.

5. Be mindful of physical appearance

If the communication involves video chat, show the courtesy of at least looking appropriate. You don’t have to don a suit and tie, but at east look presentable for a casual office look. Impressions are important. If you look disheveled and like you just got out of bed, the person on the other end will not think you are ready for serious conversation.

6. No multi-tasking while in conversation

While you may pride yourself in being able to juggle a few things at the same time, multi-tasking while in conversation with another person is rude. How can you fully focus on what they are saying if you are typing an email to someone else at the same time? People deserve your undivided attention for the time they have with you. And turn off the phone or put it on vibrate. Never put someone on hold while you take another call or message.

7. Never, never be late

“Unexpected events happen but only rarely,” said Kevin Easterday, CEO of Malligator Media. “Most of the time, you have no excuse for being late to a virtual meeting or a conference call. Your job is to get yourself ready well in advance so you do not keep others waiting on you.”

When you are late, the message you send is that they are not important enough for you to respect their time constraints and needs. This type of behavior makes you appear unprofessional too. If an emergency occurs, your responsibility is to inform the other parties immediately and re-schedule, not just be late with no explanation. “Sorry, I lost track of time” is not an explanation – it is an excuse for your lack of responsibility.

Think about working in a physical environment and physical interactions with your co-workers or clients. You would probably follow these “rules” of etiquette without even thinking about them. Working remotely is no different. Show respect and you will reap the benefits.

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