2nd March 2021
by Charlotte Wilson
Like many of us with office-based jobs, you’ll more than likely still be in a seemingly never-ending stretch of working from home. At first, this might have been novelty, and the initial liberties that remote working can bring will have been fresh, new and exciting. Plus, as everyone was in the same boat, there was also plenty of leeway in terms of getting to grips with what is and isn’t acceptable when working from the home office. However, now that we’re all in month 1,564 and counting, wfh etiquette should now be firmly entrenched within your team. And if it isn’t? Well, you better read up on our comprehensive list of dos and don’ts…
DO: Set comms boundaries
Just because we’re rolling out of bed to sit in front of a computer screen only half dressed before rolling back into bed again, doesn’t mean that work hours are extended. As we can’t go anywhere else at the moment, feeling like you never leave work can be overwhelming. So, be sure not to add to this anxiety by breaching the laws of work-chat etiquette. Nobody wants to be disturbed after-hours by the familiar ding of a Slack message or email swoosh, especially when they’re trying to eat their third Just-Eat of the week.
Be clear with your colleagues on the definition of work hours and what constitutes a worthy exception, and don’t forget to consider how other people might respond to receiving a communication ‘after hours’ rather than how much better you’ll feel for sending it. And if you do decide to work ahead by fitting in a few emails on Sunday afternoon, try scheduling them to send first thing on a Monday morning instead so as not to add any anxiety to most people’s leisure time.
DON’T: Become obsessed with video meetings
Yes, we miss seeing each other. However, when life is a little uncertain and stressful, adding a video chat to the list can feel like extra work. We know it’s supposed to be a more positive, personal connection but be aware when a video chat could be causing anguish for recipients. Our homes aren’t offices, and as such can create an atmosphere that’s rife with interruptions: kids being annoying AF, roommates who won’t STFU or partners running the Nutri-bullet at an ill-advised moment. Somethings we can’t control, but we can help to limit the amount of video meetings that don’t actually require a face-to-face interaction.
That’s not to say every video meeting and virtual catchup is an unreasonable affront, just be cautious with your scheduling and make sure there’s a valuable reason for a real-time discussion.
DON’T: Forget about the time
End of the day (or COP if you’re feeling super trendy) can mean different things to different people, and when we’re all surgically attached to our home-office workstation of choice it can be very easy to lose track of time. Whether this is dealing with clients and colleagues in actual different time zones or you’re just one of those people who works at eye-wateringly unsociable hours, don’t forget that some people work differently to how you do. Also, many work their hours to accommodate childcare, exercise, appointments etc, so try to get into the habit of being clear about what timescale or zone you’re working to avoid any unnecessary conflict or issues.
DO: Reach out
Just because we’re not in the office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach out to check in with people on a personal level. This is especially pertinent for those starting a new job in the current climate where getting to know the people you work with is especially hard. Therefore, taking the time to connect with colleagues, helping them to feel welcome and cared about – whether it’s in a friendly email or instant chat message – can go a long way. Note that this doesn’t have to a long heart-felt essay, just a few kind words can be the difference between a good day and a bad one.
DON’T: Forget to mute
Life is noisy, especially when we’re live streaming from the uncertain and often chaotic terrain of our own homes. Therefore, knowing when to effectively use the mute button is essential wfh etiquette. A good place to start is to press mute when you’re not talking, this helps to safeguard from any unpleasant noses and helps to limit distractions for other people on the call.
DO: Feel empathy
You probably haven’t seen your team in person for months, which can make it hard to really know or understand what’s going on in their life at the moment. However, in this connected yet very disconnected world, it’s important to think about the people you work with outside of their immediate professional roles and try to empathise with what they’re experiencing, both in terms of the pressures of work and the complexities of the world we live in. Taking other people’s circumstances and environment into consideration will (shock horror) make you a better person to work with, no matter what distance you’re working from.
We hope you enjoyed reading our dos and don’ts of wfh etiquette and we hope that one day soon we’ll all be able to have a good laugh about this over a cold pint. In the meantime, if you’re looking to take your brand to the next level this year, why not get in touch with us today to see how we can help.