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Guide on Remote Workplace Etiquette: 10 Tips for Virtual Professionalism

Rising Importance of Professionalism in the Virtual Workplace


Written by HRCap, Inc.

August 24, 2023


HRCap Guide on Remote Workplace Etiquette

The pandemic has shifted the modern work landscape, providing more remote and hybrid opportunities. In January 2023, 13% of employees worked fully remote, while 28% adopted a hybrid schedule. As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent, we must learn to empathize with the barriers and challenges that come with remote work. It is critical to understand and build the etiquette unique to virtual workspaces to succeed in this new modern work environment.

HRCap Guide on Remote Workplace Etiquette


5 Challenges to Remote and Hybrid Work


Working remotely offers many benefits and advantages to both employees and employers, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Uncovering these challenges allows us first to understand how to practice proper work etiquette to improve productivity and efficiency.


1. Unclear Work Guidelines


A 2022 Mercer survey shows that 48% of organizations rely on informal and unclear guidelines to manage flexible work. As a result, many employees have difficulty with navigating remote work. Nearly 50% of professionals do not understand their company's hybrid work plan.


2. Distractions at Home


Though working from home is extremely convenient for many, employees may find it challenging to stay on task when there are distractions at home, such as unfinished chores, family members, and even weak internet. 14% of employees cited distractions as a challenge for remote work.


3. Inability to Disconnect / Overworking Tendency


Working from home can make it difficult for remote workers to know when to stop working. With remote work blending in with personal lives, 27% of remote workers cite not being able to unplug as their biggest struggle. As a result, 69% report increased burnout from working from home.


4. Communication Difficulties


Communication can prove to be difficult when remote workers are not quickly accessible for face-to-face interaction, live feedback, or urgent project collaboration. 20.5% of remote employees have cited difficulties with collaboration and communication as their biggest struggle at work.


5. Loneliness and Mental Health


Remote work can make employees feel isolated, leading to loneliness and mental health issues. Generally, 14.5% of remote workers cited loneliness as their biggest struggle with remote work. Younger employees are the most at risk for mental health challenges, with 61% of young adults experiencing "serious loneliness" and 63% experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression.



10 Tips for Virtual Professionalism


Just like working in the physical office, it is essential to follow etiquette guidelines to succeed in a virtual office, whether in a full-time remote or a hybrid schedule. As professionals, we should always maintain a professional attitude by following these work-from-home etiquette guidelines.


[Related: Guide on Workplace Etiquette: 15 Tips for Developing Professionalism in the Workplace]



1. Establish Work Expectations


Adhering to the corporate remote work guidelines and policies in place is essential to display virtual professionalism. We should first take the time to familiarize ourselves with the company's policies on remote work. If there are no clear set guidelines, we must proactively align with hiring managers or the HR leaders to get alignment on remote work expectations, such as whether it is work from home or work remotely from anywhere.


2. Be Accountable


Following the work expectations, we must take ownership of our own work. As professionals, we must strive to meet deadlines, deliver our best quality work, and always follow the work guidelines.


3. Set and Commit to Designated Work Time


When working from home, we should create a daily schedule that includes dedicated work hours, meeting hours, and break times to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Creating an online shared calendar with our team can set expectations and show coworkers when we are available.


4. Be Considerate of Everyone’s Situation and Time


A shared calendar can also help us to be mindful of everyone's time. A remote team can be made up of teammates across the world, so we must be conscious of different time zones and considerate of everyone's working hours when scheduling meetings, sending messages, and especially calling.


5. Create a Separate Professional Workspace


We must also establish a designated workplace for remote work. The room or section of the room should be a productive environment that minimizes distractions. Selecting a quiet, isolated space is essential, especially for roles that require the highest confidentiality with sensitive client or company information.


6. Put Away Distractions


Having a separate designated workspace may reduce distractions, but we should also actively minimize other distractions, such as personal phones and social media. We can also share our work schedules and expectations with household members to reduce noise and interruptions.


7. Use Appropriate Methods of Communication


We must also learn and know which tools to use for effective and appropriate communication. Depending on the context and content of the message, we need to decide which communication tool to use, whether via email, messaging apps, or video conferencing. When sending emails or written correspondences, remote employees should always maintain a professional tone and make it an ongoing habit to proofread to reduce any possible confusion or misunderstanding.


8. Respond Regularly to Communications


We should acknowledge messages promptly, even if it is to confirm receipt. This allows us to maintain open lines of communication and ensure alignment on evolving and critical directions.


9. Check-in with Coworkers


Another essential tip is regularly checking in with colleagues, professionally and personally, to foster a sense of camaraderie. Staying in touch with colleagues not only helps to reduce loneliness but can improve our soft skills. This can also drive greater teamwork and productivity.


10. Practice Proper Video Etiquette


We must practice proper video etiquette when attending video conferencing meetings. The following are HRCap Virtual Meeting guidelines on how to practice appropriate video etiquette.


Maintain a Professional Virtual Presence: Though video conferencing may be done in the comforts of our homes, we should present ourselves with professional attire. We should ensure that our entire face is showing on the camera (not just parts of our head) so that it allows for greater engagement and interaction. We should also consider what is visible on our cameras to maintain the highest professionalism.


Stay Muted During Video Calls: Muting our microphones reduces the amount of echo and extra noise that may be picked up if multiple microphones are on simultaneously. In the interest of others, we should turn off our microphones unless we are speaking. We advise everyone to update their settings so that they are already muted when joining the meeting.


List Out Full Names: Listing out full names on video calls can help with identifying who is speaking and remembering everyone in the organization by their names.


Engage During Video Meetings: Depending on the type of meeting and expectations set, we must always proactively contribute to the video meeting by voicing our opinions respectfully.


Avoid Interrupting: If it is not the right time and when someone else is speaking, we should avoid interrupting and wait for the optimal time to chime in with our thoughts.


Stay in Place: Though we may be tempted to bring our laptops with us while moving around, we should avoid relocating once the video conference has started. Not only does this come off as rude, but it may cause motion sickness for those participating in the video meeting.


Start and End Video Calls Gracefully: We should always start and end calls with the proper greetings or salutations instead of abruptly beginning and ending the meetings. Although it is a virtual meeting, we should remember to add an element of human warmth.



Conclusion


All remote workers must develop and maintain a professional attitude, whether working in-office, remotely, or on a hybrid schedule. By following our workplace etiquette guidelines, employees can identify areas of growth and overcome the challenges that come with remote work. This will help foster greater productivity, collaboration, and communication. Embracing remote work etiquette and the principles behind it is the critical key to success in the evolving world of work.



Sources: HRCap, WFHResearch, Forbes, Buffer, Fishbowl, Harvard GSE, Poly, WorkLife, Human Resources Director



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