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A Guide to Remote Work Etiquette for Managers and Team Leads

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Key Takeaways

1. Recent shifts in the way we work have led to the rise of the remote working model. According to research by Gartner almost 50% of employees will continue to work remotely post-COVID-19.

2. Remote work etiquette can help your business maintain a professional and respectful work environment and foster strong relationships between colleagues.

3. Best practices which foster professionalism, and respect for colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders, can help remote workers and employers uphold the values and culture of their organisation.

4. Remote workers should be mindful of synchronous work protocols, remaining mindful of differing time zones and business hours when scheduling calls and setting deadlines.

What began as a solution to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for businesses to continue their operations has now become the new normal. The rapid, and in some cases overnight shift to the remote working model which swept the globe on an unprecedented scale shows little sign of returning to its pre-pandemic state.

It is clear that remote work is here to stay. Whether this is exclusively or in the form of hybrid working models that blend in-office and remote work, remains to be seen.

As more employers turn their attention to creating a more remote-friendly work environment for their employees they are also being called to put into place guidelines that can help make the transition to this new way of working as smooth as possible.

This article will explore some remote work etiquette tips to improve standards for virtual conduct and communication and help your out-of-office workers be productive and efficient while working remotely.

Why is remote work etiquette important?

Remote work etiquette refers to a set of guidelines and best practices for communication, collaboration, and professionalism when working from home. With the move to a virtual work or online study course environment many of the previous ways of engaging with colleagues and clients no longer apply, or at the very least, require redefining.

Codifying certain rules of conduct and communication can help ensure clear and effective communication, maintain professional relationships, and foster respect among colleagues while promoting a collaborative environment that aligns with the values of your organisation. Clear guidelines setting out expectations for behaviour and communication can also avoid misunderstandings and help to promote a culture of respect and accountability.

Tips for maintaining remote work etiquette

Below are some tips to ensure your remote staff is as professional and as prepared working from home as they are in person.

  • Mute the microphone in calls
  • It is good practice for remote workers to mute their microphones when entering meetings and whenever they are not speaking. Minimising background noise during calls is important as it can negatively impact the audio quality for other team members on the call as well as cause irritation.
    Muting the microphone not only eliminates background disturbances, helping to facilitate effective communication, concentration, and productivity but it also focuses attention on the speaker, serving as a professional courtesy to others on the call.
  • Dress appropriately in calls
  • Dressing appropriately in calls will help your business uphold a sense of professionalism and can instill respect between colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders. By maintaining a professional appearance in video calls, remote workers are able to represent your organization in the same way they would for in-person meetings or presentations and a polished appearance can also positively influence mindset helping to improve focus, motivation, and productivity when working from home.

    In general, it is recommended that remote staff dress with modesty and respect as well as consider factors such as personal grooming, and hygiene when on calls.

  • Be prepared to turn on the video in calls
  • Turning the video on during calls can help remote teams improve their communication and can aid in building trust, connection, and rapport among team members.
    In a remote work setting visual cues such as facial expressions, posture, and gestures play an important role in nonverbal communication helping to convey emotion and other subtleties which are essential for correctly understanding the context of a discussion.
    Being able to see each attendee’s face and body language can also help to establish accountability as well as reduce multitasking and inattention from remote staff during calls.
  • Avoid multitasking in calls (it’s obvious)
  • A key aspect of remote work etiquette is avoiding multitasking during meetings or calls. Not only can this adversely affect productivity, but multitasking can give the impression of workers being unengaged or disinterested in the conversation. By focusing attention on the matter at hand, remote workers are more likely to actively participate in and contribute to discussions in meaningful and productive ways.
    Turning off notifications and minimising unnecessary tabs while on calls can help to cultivate a culture of professionalism and collaboration which shows respect to other participants on the call and also enables information to be better assimilated by avoiding gaps in understanding through inattention or lack of focus.
  • Respect async work protocols
  • Advances in technology and an increasingly global workforce have led to the rise of the asynchronous work model. With many organisations hiring distributed teams across different countries and time zones all team members are not required to be physically present or online at the same time.
    It is important for remote workers to respect async work protocols and remain mindful of differing time zones and business hours when scheduling calls and setting deadlines. Trust plays a crucial role in making async communication effective in remote work settings. When team members trust each other to respond in a timely manner, they are less likely to resort to using instant messaging tools to get immediate attention and risk upsetting other team members’ boundaries.
    Async communication tools can help team members to set clear and reasonable expectations for response times and avoid many of the challenges that can arise from async work.

Horizons — the global remote work specialists

As a leading global PEO, Horizons can help your business recruit the best talent from anywhere in the world. Experts in global remote worker recruitment, we handle all compliance and payroll obligations related to hiring foreign workers, allowing you to expand your business operations quickly and compliantly.

Frequently asked questions

Certain dos and don’ts of remote work etiquette, can help your business maintain a professional and respectful work environment and promote strong relationships between colleagues.

DO:

Set clear boundaries: establish specific times for working and for taking breaks.
Dress appropriately: dress professionally for video calls as if at the office.
Be punctual: be on time for virtual calls and meetings.
Be respectful of others’ time: don’t expect immediate responses or schedule meetings during off-hours.

DON’T:

Keep your microphone on: mute it when entering meetings or when not speaking.
Multitask on calls: show respect by giving your full attention during meetings.
Neglect personal grooming: maintain good personal hygiene and appearance.
Avoid video calls: to aid trust, connection, and rapport among team members.

While an onboarding program can help remote employees feel they are valued and welcomed members of the organisation, colleagues can show respect to their remote team members by being mindful of their time zones and schedules when arranging meetings and calls.

Responding to messages in a timely manner and having face-to-face interactions can also help to build a sense of connection and camaraderie.

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