Today's work environments are changing before our eyes and moving a little further away from traditional offices daily.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many professionals have switched to working from home. In this new context, employees, like business leaders, have recognized the various benefits, both in terms of work-life balance and productivity. 

  • 85% of employees believe that people prefer remote work. (GoodHire)
  • 7 out of 10 remote employees report difficulties being part of the conversation during video calls. (Owl Labs)
  • Half of the employees don’t want to get dressed up for a video call. (Owl Labs)
  • 45% of people feel they work more in remote conditions. (Buffer)

So many companies are now considering hybrid or remote work. However, the fulfilled employees’ dream of working from home can become a nightmare if not remedy the harmful consequences of remote work.

Especially for you, we have compiled a guide in which we tried to solve the challenges of remote communication. Study the guide on remote working etiquette!

What is Remote Work Etiquette?

Remote working etiquette is a summary of rules that will make communication in an organization more productive. Such rules are, in fact, unspoken but HR managers usually prescribe them in Employee Handbook or Remote Work Policy to prevent many unpleasant moments of remote work. 

Last years have demonstrated that businesses can adapt to the most challenging circumstances. While the attention now turns to a delicate transition to remote work, companies can derive their own remote work etiquette to make everyone's life a little easier.

Top Rules For Working From Home Etiquette

With these rules of working from home etiquette, you will be able to complete the work on time, and all your colleagues will feel appreciated and respected.

1. Always respond to urgent messages from colleagues 

In remote work, a considerable share of communication takes place via messengers. When you receive a message from your colleague, answer immediately because you’ll simply forget to do this later.

Also, don't disappear in the middle of a conversation. Treat it like personal, face-to-face communication.

2. Use emojis and GIFs reasonably

Even in the workplace, people often seek to bond with others. You can break the ice in communication with your team members through the use of emojis and GIFs in professional messages. These little things can add an emotional dimension to a conversation that might otherwise be too formal. However, it is possible to go too far.

Many GIFs and emojis can easily distract and annoy your colleagues. This is where you have to be discerning. If you're using too many GIFs and no one is responding to you, you need to stop sending them. 

While GIFs and emojis might be appropriate for celebrating a birthday or an achievement, avoid using them to answer serious questions. Above all, stay away from inappropriate GIFs and emojis. It is better to be too careful in this case.

3. Don't avoid video calls

Hours spent in front of the eye of a webcam have become an absolute norm for work and an essential point of working-from-home etiquette. Zoom, Skype, and other programs have invaded our lives, and are not going to leave it. So, if colleagues invite you on group video calls, don’t avoid them because it’s impolite and unprofessional. If you are busy with your individual tasks, mark this time as “busy” in your corporate calendar. If you don’t do this, your colleagues suppose you are free and can schedule a meeting.

Also, since there is no need to book a meeting room in the office, remote employees experience a problem with the illusion of availability. People can send invitations 5 minutes before the meeting. Don't presume this: schedule the conference at least an hour in advance and invite all participants via email.

4. Use and respect “do not disturb” status

When you find yourself in front of a closed door, you know you should avoid barging in to ask your questions. Respect the same principle online. If a co-worker displays the “Do Not Disturb” status, imagine their office door is closed. They may be in the middle of a meeting, or on a break.

Wait for their status to change to “Available” before sending them a message or if it's not an urgent issue, send them an email instead. 

Likewise, it would be best to refrain from sending professional messages to your colleagues outside working hours or during the weekend (unless it is a real emergency, which only they can help you, and you have no other way to reach them).

5. Dress appropriately

Just because you're working remotely doesn't mean you have to wear pajamas during your online meetings. Remember this fundamental rule of work-from-home etiquette for employees. ​​After all, you are a professional and should dress accordingly, at least in front of your colleagues. Otherwise, they may think you are disrespecting them.

Along the same lines, comb your hair, wash your face, brush your teeth, etc., so that your appearance is not awkward during the meeting.

Before joining the conference call, ask: Would I feel good if I was in the office? If the answer is “yes”, everything is probably OK. If the answer is “no”, clean up before joining the meeting.

6. Find a perfect spot for video calls in your house

Once you've made sure you look presentable, check your surroundings. Are there any obnoxious posters on the wall behind you? Is there a pile of laundry on the floor that your colleagues can see? If so, tidy up your surroundings to reduce distractions. 

Also, rate your selected space for noise. You have to choose a place as quiet as possible, which means the café isn’t an appropriate option. If you have family members at home, your living room and kitchen probably won't be the best choice.

Find a quiet, noise-free space to join the meeting, so you don't have to shout to be heard.

7. Be mindful of time zones

If you work in a multinational environment or with clients worldwide, always consider the time zones when scheduling a meeting. For example, if you are in Norway and want to contact a Toronto-based colleague, choose the afternoon according to your local time.

8. Test your audio and video in advance

Test your equipment to ensure it works well before you launch into a conference call with your colleagues. Nothing puts out a fire during a virtual meeting as technical issues.

If your meeting is telephonic, check your device and service. Make sure you know how to log in, have a working webcam, microphone, and speakers, and have a strong WiFi signal.

9. Set realistic deadlines for completing tasks

It’s more complicated to control task performance in a remote environment. If you do not have time - never waste other people’s time. Write in advance, apologize and set new deadlines. If the reason for being late is objective, you can indicate it. If it’s personal, you shouldn’t burden your colleagues with details. It is much more important to set new deadlines and, most importantly, to fulfill them.

Checklist “How ready are you for full-fledged remote work?”

1. Do you have a ready workplace?

2. Are your computer and phone equipped with all the necessary work programs?

3. Is the Internet speed enough for work?

4. Will you be able to receive a work call without any problems (including video calls)?

5. Do you have questions about the new mode of operation that you have not yet asked?

How to maximize the performance of remote employees?

Working remotely from home etiquette isn’t enough for pleasant remote work. Heads of departments and hiring managers have to contribute to this process too. We recommend working on the following points to maximize the comfort and efficiency of the personnel.

1. Jointly choose the most convenient task setting and control program for employees

2. Prohibit working after hours (if you really need to, don't distract your colleagues)

3. Always be in touch and answer questions

4. Think over the legal aspects of registration of new labor relations

For example, signing an additional agreement with employees to the employment contract or re-issuing a particular employment contract for remote work.

What is important to point out:

- Conditions for the use of equipment, personal or work;

- List the messengers, CRM systems, communication tools, and report names that you need to use;

- Reporting procedure;

- Operating mode;

- Mention that the work takes place remotely and that the employee is not physically located on the employer's premises.

Conclusion

A long period of remote work poses many questions for the business. Therefore, a conscious and large-scale transition to remote work requires comprehensive measures from business owners and HR managers. The etiquette of working from home is a fundamental step that will help your personnel feel better in their workplace.

If you feel that tactical and strategic planning takes too much of your time, consider technology solutions that can simplify your daily routine. For example, use WorkPlace-as-a-Service solutions to accelerate the transition to remote work. Or use the online recruitment platform to automate your hiring processes.