Maintain eye contact, offer a firm handshake, dress appropriately: the basic rules that define a professional attitude at work are well-established, and office etiquette evolves only slowly.
But with the office effectively moving online, many codes that make up business etiquette have now been shattered. Many of us barely bat an eyelid at impromptu Zoom interventions from young children or pets. Casual calls with team leaders have become a regular occurrence.
Here are some rules for getting it right:
1. Don’t always jump into video meetings
Video calls are an easy go-to solution to replace meetings, and since they don’t require commuting, Zoom and Teams links have been quickly filling up every gap in employees’ calendars.Initially we all wanted to replace meetings and things we did in the office with video meetings but we’ve become so proficient at it that we begin using it for everything and at some point you can reach video conferencing fatigue. Phone, email and text still has its place so don’t over use the video conference when meetings aren’t necessary and you will prevent that fatigue.
2. Prepare an appropriate environment for video calls
In the first few months of the pandemic-induced need for video conferencing etiquette and professionalism took a back seat as people adjusted and managers have been forgiving of Zoom mishaps, but as the trend settles in, a degree of professionalism should be expected, even from employees’ virtual selves. So remember you are letting people into your house. Be aware of your surroundings and try to create a professional setting as much as possible. Close doors to keep kids and barking dogs out as much as possible. Make sure a clean and bright setting is visable, rather than a house in disarray.
3. Don’t think that switching to video on is a must do
Some sales situations or one on one meetings are better served with a video camera running but other meetings, trainings and conferences can be well served by a simple audio conference. Employees should not lose credibility because they attend via audio only some of the time. It’s been noted that fatigue is much worse with the video on, rather than when the call is strictly audio so choose the right moments to engage with full video.
4. Don’t do things you wouldn’t do during a face to face meeting
We’ve all seen the Youtube videos of employees who took their video call to the bathroom or in the bedroom where their significant other happened to walk through having just left the shower. This in part goes back to be aware of your surroundings but also remember to treat all video and audio calls with the same professionalism you would a face to face meeting. Avoid embarrassing and inappropriate situations by maintaining a professional image. Don’t expect that colleagues, clients, and managers should always be easygoing in terms of dress code, tone of voice and punctuality in the remote workplace.
5. Make calls as short as possible
Most video tools default to 30 minute time slots but that doesn’t mean the calls have to last that long. Stick to calendar norms and be cognizant of participants time. Things that take two minutes should take two minutes. Before setting up a day full of half-hour meetings, remember how long those chats would have taken in an office. More often than not, you will find that a shorter call is far more appropriate.
6. Keep high performance standards
A global pandemic comes with a degree of angst, and over the past few months, managers have rightly been understanding when confronted with lower productivity and motivation within their teams. But while performance management has been on hold, it inevitably has to come back on the horizon at some point. Be your best remote self. People may feel skeptical about the productivity of remote workers, but we should demonstrate the same level of motivation and commitment when working remotely compared to working in an office setting.
7. Expect increased casual conversation with management
Managers have to find ways to replace “dropping in on people” to see how things are going. Management will engage two to three times more with their teams as a result of switching to remote working. So expect managers to double down on engagement and coaching via alternative means like video calls.
Rethink your entire virtual communications strategy to effectively recreate in-person meetings and events. For your customers, find new ways to share your insights and start conversations through podcasts, webinars and blog articles. Within your organization maintain professionalism and work to improve “digital etiquette” because remote work is likely here to stay for many organizations.
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