Workplace Revolution: Work from Home Etiquette

Workers could get legal right to work from home. It's time to prepare for work from home etiquette.
Susan Fourtané
Virtual meetingdoble-d / iStock

In what is being called a workplace revolution, workers might get legal right to work from home rather than being forced to go back to their physical workplace after lockdown.

Global companies, including Google and Twitter, have acknowledged that their staff performed very well --in cases better than in the office--when operating remotely during lockdown. For some workers, working from home means the discovery of a newly found life-work balance that before seemed to be just a dream. 

Enjoying more free time with family, not being forced to spend long hours in traffic or public transport has been translated into more productivity and better mood as well as showing an increase in the adoption of healthy habits such as exercising.

Supporters of the proposal hope this will not only make it easier to keep employees happy and productive but will also reduce commuter congestion on public transport. Roads will also become safer if drivers are not forced to drive back home late in the evening after long working hours, tired and potentially at risk of causing a road accident. 

In The United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in his 2019 party manifesto, committed to giving the workforce the right to more flexibility. That was before the COVID-19 crisis.

It is now the perfect time to show how that promised right to more flexibility becomes a reality. In The U.K., office workers have been told to continue working from home indefinitely. 

Working from home has the potential to improve productivity for many. If you are working from home, following some guidelines and learning about work from home etiquette may help in your professional career. The many online tools available also make remote work easier than ever before. 

First, let's have a look at what is considered bad work-from-home etiquette. Yet, what follows below is something that could happen to anyone. Dressing appropriately when working from home should be considered as equally important as dressing before going to the office.

Work from home etiquette gone wrong 

Good Morning America (GMA) reporter Will Reeve went live wearing a suit jacket paired with shorts. He said he "didn’t know anyone at home would be able to see his full outfit."

That is precisely the point. Following good digital citizen and work-from-home etiquette implies that you will dress for working-from-home in --or very close to-- the way you would dress for going to your physical workplace, especially if you are broadcasting from home, attending an online event, or in a work interview.  

In a statement, Reeve said, “any sartorial tips from these people wearing a belt, trousers, and shoes during their work video calls at home are most welcome.” Apparently, Will does not seem to believe some people actually follow a correct work-from-home etiquette when working remotely.

Interview from home 

Workplace Revolution: Work from Home Etiquette
 Online job interview etiquette requires proper attire, Source: Andrey Popov, iStock 

More than ever, interviews from home are gaining momentum. Video job interviews are a common part of the hiring process today. You know you have to prepare for it. Most of all, you want to look, sound, and show you are professional. You need to prepare the technology you are going to use and make sure everything will work well.

You can test your equipment beforehand, and even ask a friend or member of your family to help you with an online rehearsal. You then will know what impression you give to the person who is on the other side of your screen, and you can make adjustments if necessary.

Minimize distractions in your environment. Do not let your spouse, partner, child, toddler, pet come into the room where you are going to be remotely interviewed. Lock the door, if necessary. Ensure your Internet connection is reliable and stable, and do not let anyone in your house download anything during your interview.

Dress professionally. Dress professionally from head to toe, not just the visible half of your body. The interviewer might ask you to stand up.   

Always remember to make eye contact, and do not forget to put your phone in silent mode. 

How to practice a good video call/video conference etiquette  

Workplace Revolution: Work from Home Etiquette
This would not be considered your office outfit. Digital citizenship is also about remaining professional when working from home, Source: Victoria Gnatluk/iStock 

There is etiquette for those holding professional video conferences. And does not include forgetting that even if the environment is virtual it remains a work environment. 

In today's world, virtual meetings are a necessity. They are not going anywhere, not even after lockdown. Adapting quickly and learning how to follow the good digital citizen etiquette is paramount for presenting yourself as a professional no matter where your virtual office is located. 

Consider your space and set your home office in a quiet corner where you do not get interrupted or easily distracted. Organize your desk, have only what you need, and never place your coffee cup too close from your computer. 

Use reliable headphones or earphones, and have them always handy in case you receive an unexpected video call or audio call. If there is a day you have an important meeting, test your equipment earlier in case something unexpected happens and you need a replacement. 

When your video calls slow down your computer perhaps you can join the call from your phone. Most video conferencing tools will work fine on your phone. 

More comfy does not mean your jammies  

Workplace Revolution: Work from Home Etiquette
 A casual but smart dress is a comfortable choice when working from home, Source: Monoliza21/iStock

Consider dressing as if you are working in the office. You could be a little more casual, but wearing sweatpants or your pyjamas is not appropriate when you are working and could receive a video call or have to attend a last minute video meeting any time. 

If you are not ready to take a video call, you can always opt for an audio call instead. However, depending on the kind of work and company you work for, they may expect to be ready for video calls and video conferences as well. 

An important tip regarding the etiquette of working from home is that you should never video conference from your sofa. Find a desk or table in your home, and create a little office-like environment. 

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