There will be many people who work from home even after Covid’s ravages are reduced to a manageable threshold. It shouldn’t surprise you that some people are clueless when they disrupt those who work from home. Don’t you be one of them! Here are some etiquette rules I recommend you follow with those who work from home.
Etiquette Rule 1. Don’t ring anyone’s doorbell without their advance knowledge you are coming.
Has it happened to you that you’re on a very important Zoom call with a customer and a someone rings your doorbell? It’s not UPS delivering a package while ringing your doorbell to announce the package’s arrival. Your neighbor is ringing your doorbell simply to stop by and say hi.
Do not ever ring anyone’s doorbell unless they expect you to be coming over.
There are so many reasons why this unplanned interruption is unacceptable. What if you are not prepared to face a visitor because of your attire? Zoom attire is often not acceptable for face-to-face visitors. I know one psychologist who puts a shirt over her nightgown and puts earrings on for her Zoom meetings. She would never go to the door in her nightgown.
The only time you ring someone’s doorbell without their knowledge beforehand is if there’s a dangerous situation that needs immediate attention. Unless it’s burning or there’s blood, don’t bother your neighbors. That’s work from home etiquette.
What happens when someone clueless rings your doorbell? You don’t have to answer the door.
Etiquette Rule 2. Communicate with minimal disruption.
Working from home is especially challenging when there are children at home enrolled in remote schooling. Before you communicate with a customer, peer or your manager, ask yourself how distracting their work environment is. A telephone call is more disruptive when someone is working on a spreadsheet while trying to watch their children on Zoom school. A text would be less disruptive and an email even less so.
Think about the person you want to communicate with before you interrupt someone’s day. A distracted person doesn’t listen as effectively as someone who is fully paying attention. The distractions from working from home are real. Don’t let your message get lost because the listener didn’t hear you.
Etiquette Rule 3. Don’t be a distraction is work from home etiquette.
Zoom has its own rules of work from home etiquette. Please pay attention to your camera before you sign into the meeting. Is it directed at your ceiling or the top of your head? Adjust your camera so you are well lit and front and center before others can see you.
If you have to leave your desk, don’t just tilt your screen to the ceiling. Have a profile picture in your Zoom account so people can at least see your picture instead of your initials or your ceiling. Think hard about repeatedly getting up and down during the Zoom call. Really, is it necessary to be moving around and distracting others during the meeting?
Seriously consider having your young children in another room if you’re the Zoom presenter. Just today, the presenter’s two-year-old disconnected the router during his Zoom meeting. While the presenter was able to reconnect, it delayed the meeting.
Etiquette Rule 4. Set up ground rules for working from home.
You had better set up ground rules immediately, if you haven’t already, when two people work from home in the same household. Ideally there are two separate locations for each person to work.
What if someone works from the kitchen and the other person works from another room? There has to be a rule for when there are two people in the kitchen, with one working, while the other one is eating. The diner has to keep quiet. What if the diner gets a call on his cell? He has to leave the room. Respect the other person’s space by not being loud or disruptive.
Often, it’s just not possible in an apartment or other small space to have separate work locations. Buy the best headphones you can afford. Try to block out staggered times for outbound calls for each person. By having only one person at a time making outbound calls in a small space you can try to minimize the noise for the caller.
Gartner reports that 36.74% of companies plan to shift some of their employees to remote working permanently. Take control of your remote work environment so your work from home experience is both enjoyable and productive.