Many businesses continue to have their employees work from home and more and more small business owners are doing the same. Now that the newness of working from home has worn off, people are starting to settle in and that can mean letting down their guard. The key is, figuring out how to prevent it. So, here are some tips.
Dress for Success
When you dress the part, you feel the part. Dressing for success puts you in the proper frame of mind. An article published in Scientific American looked at a series of different studies that examined this phenomenon. What it found was “…wearing formal business attire increased abstract thinking — an important aspect of creativity and long-term strategizing. The experiments suggest the effect is related to feelings of power.” While another study found that people who dressed up were better at negotiations.
The point is, the way you dress puts you in the proper frame of mind for work. Even if you’re on phone calls all day or just answering emails, when you dress for success, you’re more likely to succeed.
Stick to Office Hours
Professional coaching company and self-proclaimed “leading authority on modern manners”, Debrett’s says it’s important that you stick to office hours even when you work from home.
“While home-working can offer greater flexibility, it’s inconvenient for colleagues if you go AWOL for a few hours during the day — even if you plan to work later to make up for it,” the company posted in a recent blog.
It may be tempting to get back to binge-watching your favorite show midday, but resist the temptation and save it for later.
If you absolutely have to get away from your desk in the middle of the workday, USA Today says make sure you’re still communicating with the people who need you. Let your boss know you may be away from your computer, but you will have your phone on you. If you can, check your email and text messages to make sure there are no fires that you need to put out while you’re away.
It’s not fair to act like you’re on vacation and ghost your boss and coworkers for a few hours if you’re not officially on vacation.
Remember to Smile
Whether it’s a Zoom call or a phone call, smile when you say “hello”. According to a 2008 study conducted by scientists at the University of Portsmouth and published in Science Daily, “Smiling affects how we speak, to the point that listeners can identify the type of smile based on sound alone.”
What’s more, when you smile while you’re writing an email, you’re less likely to write negative things in your correspondence.
Use the Beginning, Middle and End Formula
CNBC talked to an etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute who said even when communicating on a platform like Slack or sending a quick email to a coworker, follow the beginning, middle, and end formula.
That’s because sending one word, “Hey,” over chat can send a coworker’s anxiety soaring until those next words follow. He doesn’t know if there’s a major problem with something he’s working on, or if you’re just asking him what he’s doing for lunch. The uncertainty can cause unnecessary worry.
What’s more, when you don’t add a “Thanks,” at the end of a message, it can seem like the issue is still open for discussion.
All of your correspondence, even over chat, should include a quick greeting (beginning), the issue that you want to talk about (middle), and then a farewell to close things out (end).
Video Meeting Courtesy
For many people, we’ve also entered this strange realm of video conference calls, where people get an inside look into our homes and our lives. It can be tough to navigate this new terrain, especially with everything else going on in the world.
No matter if you’ve done one video conference call or one thousand, the tips below can make sure you continue to maintain your professionalism throughout.
Sign on Early to Check Your Video
No matter how experienced you are with video calls, there’s always the chance for an embarrassing video fail. Maybe the audio stops working, or maybe your dirty underwear is hanging out of your laundry basket. According to Business Insider, many of those awkward and embarrassing moments with your coworkers can be avoided if you simply log on early so you have time to check your video before you enter the meeting.
Mute Yourself When You’re Not Talking
Just about anyone who has tried to do a Zoom meeting while they work from home the last few months has learned this one first hand. Everyone understands that people are working from home, but working at home or not, that dog barking in the background, the toddler demanding juice, the gardener next door are all annoying and distracting.
It’s one thing if you’re talking; it’s quite another thing if your mic is open while someone else is talking.
Mute yourself, it will save you embarrassment, guaranteed.
Written by Erika Towne
If you found these tips helpful be sure to check out some of our other blog posts about working from home: Avoiding Distractions While Working from Home and 7 Essential Tips for Working from Home. Or if you are a parent like me, be sure to check out Working from Home with Schools Closed.