Working from home has provided employees a unique opportunity to balance work and life. Instead of spending hours in the evening commute, you can easily shut down your laptop after shift and go to the next room to hang out with your kids or do chores. This setup also makes it easy for you to pick up a hobby. You can schedule singing lessons or other activities right after work or even before clocking in.
Of course, working from home comes with a few challenges, especially for recent college grads. Without ample in-office experience, these young professionals may feel lost working virtually. Though most of them are tech-savvy, they may still find it difficult to connect or jell with their colleagues online.
If you’re one of these young professionals who are about to have their first taste of the corporate world online, don’t fret. Start by knowing what to do and what not to do in a virtual office environment. Below are some work-from-home etiquettes to keep in mind.
Pick the right platform for the right message
Selecting a messaging platform isn’t that simple simply because of the sheer amount of options online. But in general, be sure to choose the right communication method for the message you want to convey.
When to send an email
Do you need to provide detailed information or send a copy of what you and your colleague discussed in the video conference? Use email. This method allows you and the recipient to print the information for reference or keep it for proper documentation. But remember to keep emails professional and concise. If the message you want to convey takes more than five paragraphs, set a video call meeting instead.
When to call for a Zoom meeting
If you need a quick response to a time-sensitive concern or pitch something, it’s better to schedule a Zoom meeting. This avoids endless chains of back-and-forth emails. Video conference calls are also the best option for team meetings, company activities, or any events that require interaction.
When to use messaging tools
Emails and video meetings aren’t good options if you’re working with someone in another time zone. The better choice is instant messaging tools such as Slack and collaboration platforms like Trello. These tools also allow for more casual chats between workers, keeping pantry and water-cooler chat moments alive.
Prepare an appropriate environment for video calls
Zoom mishaps were forgivable in the first few months of the pandemic-induced work-from-home setups. But as the WFH trend settles in, people expect a degree of professionalism from you in a video call. It’s best to pick a corner in your room or home where you can peacefully take video calls and work properly. Be mindful of your surroundings; not everything in your home can be endearing to your colleagues.
Also, it pays off to invest in some equipment to improve your home office setup. Invest in budget lighting, attach a better camera to your laptop, or buy an external mic. This can provide a better experience for you and your officemates who don’t want to get distracted while talking shop with you.
Respect off-hours and time zones
Everyone has different hours, and, if you work in an international company, others may be in different time zones. Keep in mind that this time zone difference can affect response times and meeting availability. Take that into account when working or leading a project. You don’t want to end up causing delays because you failed to anticipate the impact of time zone difference on your own work.
Also, respect off-hours. Some may have to work a normal nine-to-five shift, but others may request for a more flexible schedule as they need to care for their parents or children during the daytime. Before sending a follow-up email or a harmless meme to a colleague, see if they have already clocked out. Look at their Skype, Hangout, or Slack status to make sure you don’t interrupt their family or personal time.
Virtual office etiquette isn’t as straightforward as in a traditional office environment. That’s simply because the modes of communication are different. But never let that become an excuse for your poor behavior. With these tips, you can ensure that your first few months in your first WFH job will be smooth and fun.