There are many things you can do away with when you’re working from home. For instance, you don’t always need to dress up to do your job or go out with your colleagues to bond with them.
Though standard office rules don’t apply as a Remote virtual assistant, you still have adhere to proper social graces because you are interacting with other people. Remember that there are actual human beings on the other side of the screen, and they deserve the same courtesy and respect as those you deal with directly.
A little empathy can go a long way in keeping your clients, co-workers and yourself happy in the midst of virtual remote work. So, take heed of these rules of Etiquette at all times:
Respect Other People’s Time
Unless your client has requested everyone to log in at the same time, you have to be mindful of your team members’ time zones as well as their schedules.
- Select the right communication method – How you get in touch with others depends on when the recipient will see your message and their time of day. For example: if it’s 3 am in your recipient’s time zone and you’re not sure if they’re online, send an email instead of calling.
- Respect busy and free times – When someone informs you that they’re out for the day, refrain from pinging them in the group chat afterward. Don’t expect a super-quick reply to your emails either. By respecting their boundaries, they will respect yours as well so you don’t have to worry about receiving any late-day work yourself.
- Ask for confirmation over making assumptions – Think about what you find annoying and avoid doing them to others. Perhaps you’d like it when someone asks for confirmation before scheduling a meeting. In that case, do the same with them. A simple “Hey @JohnDoe, are you free anytime today or tomorrow for a chat?” works wonders.
All of the above are made easier when you post updates of what you’re up to, when you’re coming in, when you’ll be away from your workstation, and when you need to hear back from someone. Your co-workers are sure to follow suit.
Navigate Communication Lines
Is your team using Skype, Slack or any other instant messaging tool to stay in touch? You may be tempted to use it for casual conversations but resist the urge, especially in work-related group chats. Having a light and friendly atmosphere is fine, but there are instances when you should draw the line.
- Read more than what you’re typing – As normal as it might be for your team to exchange GIFs and memes, don’t spend too much time on non-work-related chats. Create a separate chat room for such topics so participants can easily turn off alerts. Also, always read through threads before chiming in so that you know what is currently being discussed.
- Do your prep prior to a call or conference – Anything that involves video means you have to look appropriate. Formal wear isn’t necessary but you should at least be presentable. Don’t forget to check your surroundings and equipment beforehand too. Find a suitable location with minimal background noise and visual distractions.
- Give others your full attention – Juggling several tasks at once is a nice skill to have but is a no-no during conversations. Give people your undivided attention and leave other to-dos for when you’re finished. Set your status to ‘Do Not Disturb’ or put your phone on vibrate. Additionally, never put someone on hold to take another call.
Another tip is to use the mention feature (e.g. @username) so the person would know you’re referring to them directly or you would like to hear from them.
Make Use of Technology
Familiarise yourself with the features of the tools and software available. They’re help you follow the rules of remote work etiquette.
- Use services for scheduling global meetings – Calendly and other similar services make it easy to find the perfect meeting time for people across the globe. Most of the time, these are paid although there are viable options that are free of charge as well. Just remember to set reminders for yourself so you won’t be late to meetings.
- Take control of notifications – Nobody wants to be bothered by alerts when they’re off work. Set up email filters so you’ll only get notified for urgent matters or for messages from a select list of contacts. Turn off any push notifications when you’re logging out for the day or simply sign out of the account if possible.
- Schedule emails for working hours – As previously mentioned, part of respecting other people’s time is sending emails when they can see it. This is easily done with almost every email app out there. Gmail and Outlook has this feature. Inform the recipient prior to hitting ‘Send’ as they might think you’re online when you’re not.
There are plenty of tools that make it easier to follow proper etiquette while communicating. Explore what’s at your disposal and suggest to your client or team what you’re not using yet.
Working from home means you likely won’t encounter water cooler talk and Friday nights out with colleagues. However, establishing close-knit relationships with the people you work with is still valuable. Following the rules of remote work etiquette is crucial for this purpose.
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