Working from home etiquette tips and tricks

Since the onset of COVID-19 globally, workplaces are quickly establishing, possibly for the first time, a work from home policy for most if not all employees. This new setup can create its own great opportunities, but of course for many this comes with new challenges in every way, including the what were once simple, even subconscious ways we communicated with our colleagues in the office. 

Communication (actually, over communication!) is key when you can no longer just pop over to your coworker’s desk to ask a quick question, or chat in the hallway about a recent meeting follow up. Here are some quick tips and tricks to keep channels open while still respecting your coworkers time. 

Pay attention to calendars and away messages

When you’re in the office you can tell when someone is working and doesn’t want to be disturbed: headphones in, head down, maybe in a designated quiet area or work space in the office? Working from home makes that a little less clear so it is important to pay attention to your coworker’s calendar if they’re set to “away” on your instant messaging system, or have blocked time on the calendar to not be disturbed. 

Mute yourself on large conference calls 

A little background noise on a call with three or four people doesn’t cause much of an interruption, but  in larger groups it can be a major distraction and waste time. Be sure to keep yourself on mute unless you’re the one talking so that the person leading the meeting can have everyone’s undivided attention.

Keep your phone on hand

Your internet connection at home may not be reliable, so make sure to keep your phone close by so that you can call in to any important meetings if your internet is running slow or malfunctioning. Most video conferencing systems have a dial in number to quickly rejoin the meeting if your internet drops. When one person in a meeting can’t speak or be heard, it wastes time and energy for others on the call. 

Avoid multitasking during video conferencing

Think because you aren’t physically in the room together that your coworkers can’t tell that you are multitasking during a virtual meeting? Guess what, they can. Close other browsers or distractions that may tempt you during a virtual meeting out of respect to the meeting organizer and to help stay productive. 

Keep meetings productive and on time

Earlier we mentioned the importance of over communicating and this is especially true for virtual meetings when everyone is working from home. Always have a visible agenda and description so others know why they were invited to a meeting and try to keep meetings starting and ending on time. Since there is less follow up happening to meetings in person, it is good for the meeting organizer to do a recap at the end of the meeting or via email about appropriate next steps and set a follow up meeting if necessary. Over communicating and being clear on next steps is more of a challenge when working virtually than the reminders we get just by physically seeing one another at work. 

If you’re looking for training on how to help your workforce stay productive, manage remote teams and collaborate working from home, we’ve curated a list of courses for organizations. These courses are made available as a public service, free of charge through 15 June 2020. Please use them to help your employees, customers, partners, and families reduce their exposure and spread of the virus. Immediate education and containment are key to saving lives. Sign up for these free courses at