As more of us are working from home—and more of the working-from-home crew will continue to do so in the future—it’s important to get the basics right. We can all use some tips for best utilizing the software that enables communication among remote employees.
For employers, this means providing training to employees on how to use the software first and foremost. Beyond that, however, it also requires training and communication on videoconferencing etiquette. Here are some things to remind employees as we transition to more and more videoconferencing as a part of daily life.
For the call itself:
- Employees should understand that they may not realize how noisy something in the background is, so muting yourself when not speaking is always appropriate.
- When using video, remember to be courteous. Just because you’re not in person doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to have side conversations. If it is unavoidable, consider turning off the camera so as not to be a distraction to others.
- Always be on time. Although it’s not in person, it can still be disruptive to arrive late. It wastes everyone’s time when others are waiting on someone to show up to begin.
- When you speak, consider whether it makes sense to say who you are before beginning. If those attending the call are not already familiar with one another, this may be crucial.
- Test your setup before the call begins. Ensure if you’re using video that it’s framed properly and there aren’t inappropriate things in the background. Ensure the microphone, video, and speakers are all working.
- Have an agenda, and stick to it. End the call on time so others can get back to the rest of their work or other meetings.
- If you have to be in a shared space, consider using a white noise machine not only for the privacy of your own interactions but also to make your calls less disruptive to others. This is especially relevant in shared working spaces.
- Utilize the chat feature if you have something to say while someone is speaking and you want to be sure it doesn’t get missed. That way, no one has to be interrupted.
Other training tips for videoconferencing:
- Remind employees that workplace policies are still in effect, even when the workplace is home. This means antidiscrimination, antibullying, and antiharassment policies are still valid and will be enforced.
- Train the team to be polite to one another, even though they’re remote. It may seem obvious to be polite, but with fewer face-to-face interactions, it’s easier for tensions to build. People need simple reminders that courtesy goes a long way.
- Dress codes may change, but appropriate attire is still important, even if it’s not the usual work attire. Having foul language or something on clothing that may cause disruption is not a good idea.
- Whenever possible, try to work in a space that is free from noises and distractions and is not shared with others. While this isn’t always going to be possible, having minimal interaction with others and minimal interruptions during calls is the goal.
- Have empathy for one another. We’re all facing our own situations with the pandemic, and each of us has unique challenges to contend with. Some may have lost child care. Some may be caring for ill loved ones. Some may have to carve out workspace in an already full house. Having empathy goes a long way.
- Don’t require everyone to join a video call when an e-mail will do. It just wastes time.
What else would you add to this list? What lessons has your organization learned while transitioning to more videoconference calls?
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.