Working from Home While Conducting Business Etiquette-fully

Working from Home

Working from home has become commonplace since the pandemic began.  Many people have been fortunate to conduct business outside of the office in an effort to minimize any effects on their health or the health of their company.  

This has changed the way many businesses interface with employees, clients, customers, and vendors.  Traveling to the office took precious time out of each day and costs of getting to distant meetings were sometimes prohibitive.  But now, “traveling” the virtual highways with improving technologies allow people to see and hear each other without having to be in the same physical location.

However, conducting business in a virtual environment isn’t perfect.

Working with Trade-offs

Without face to face in-person communication, important information is lost.  We can’t read body language or pick up on visual cues which help us communicate effectively.  The true atmosphere of the business or organization can feel misplaced – absent the in-person free-flowing discussions in which everyone could read the atmosphere of the workplace on a given day.  

Meaningful discussion and constructive arguments with problem-solving as the goal helps productivity – but feels missing in a virtual environment.  “There is no perfect solution,” as economist, Thomas Sowell reminds us, and we need to make the best of whatever workplace we have.  We can take advantage of the opportunity to be our best in spite of working from home and not being physically present with others.

You Are Still the Face of Your Business

We represent the organizations we work for.  Our actions are a measure of how others view our organization, and within the organization people recognize the attitude of a team player.  Many businesses operate with cross-functional teams so when organizations go virtual, there is more pressure to show up as your best self.  

One profound question always faces us: “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?”  Posing this question on a daily basis gives you an immediate etiquette thermometer reading.  Taking your etiquette temperature keeps you mindful of your self-presentation and that of the organization you represent.

Etiquette Reminders for Working from Home

  • Conflicts are bound to occur. Resolve conflict at its source.  Staff members who handle conflict directly are appreciated.  If you feel you have to discuss another employee’s shortcomings, copy that person in the email to your manager.
  • Valuing others’ time is essential. Every meeting needs an agenda!  Participants will know what is expected of them and ensure a purpose-driven meeting. The meeting leader should send a follow-up via email clearly referencing the action items.  
  • Come prepared and as your best virtual self.  Being a practiced teleconference participant and showing up ready to go helps your body language mesh with your words. Sitting closer to the webcam gives you a visual connection that adds an element of accountability and diminishes the tendency to multitask.
  • Increase productivity by being ready to share screens in order to collaborate easily on projects and documents, even as you are working from home and possibly thousands of miles apart.  
  • Keep a working list of suggestions for meetings and the virtual workplace, in general.   Share when and where appropriate.   
  • Occasionally, re-visit your company’s or organization’s mission and values.  Take the opportunity to assess your alignment.
  • Adhere to the workplace norm of politeness, remembering that “Politeness is to do and say the kindest things in the kindest way.”  ~ Unknown

Respect is earned and given.  Your contribution-motivated professionalism will always be appreciated whether working from home, in your office, or on the road.

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