In the past few years, remote work has become a phenomenon of the century. As millions of people worldwide seek better work-life balance, working from home has revolutionized the market and proved an effective solution for employees and businesses. A 2021 survey from the Pew Research Center (PWC) showed that 83% of employers found the shift to a remote work model was successful for their companies, further illustrating the immense impact remote work has had on the American and global workforce.
Still, while remote work may seem like a dream come true, an escape from hours of mind-numbing traffic and soulless grey cubicles, it requires a different mindset. Remote workers are uniquely positioned to enjoy boundless autonomy and flexibility. But they, more than anyone else, must hold themselves accountable, remain diligent in their work, and adopt remote-first values to continue enjoying the benefits of working remotely. In this guide, you’ll discover tips and tricks to embody work-from-home etiquette like a pro.
Why is Etiquette in Remote Work Important?
A fundamental component of successful remote work is trust. Your manager trusts you to meet your deadlines, and your colleagues trust you to complete your share of the workload. If you want to maintain their confidence in you, then you must follow remote work etiquette principles; this is why it is so important. By upholding these standards and guidelines, your colleagues can rest assured that your integrity, accountability, and commitment to the work will drive consistent, high-quality outcomes.
Moreover, work-from-home etiquette develops good character and work ethic. It is paramount for your efforts to stay focused as you guard yourself against the various distractions vying for your attention. Like many virtues of good work ethic, etiquette is essential for creating a positive remote work environment and a space conducive to productivity.
Benefits of Work From Home Etiquette
As you may know, remote work etiquette refers to the social norms and expectations that govern interactions between employees and employers when working from home. The great thing is that adhering to these norms can lead to several benefits.
One of the main benefits is improved communication and collaboration. By setting clear expectations for communication and availability, remote teams can ensure they’re always in sync, allowing vital information to be shared effectively. Good etiquette also promotes a professional and respectful work environment, helping to maintain a positive work culture.
Another benefit of remote work etiquette is supporting a healthy work-life balance. By setting and maintaining boundaries, remote workers can avoid overworking and burnout, which enables them to be more productive. Here are some other key benefits to consider:
Improves communication and collaboration among team members
Helps maintain a professional and respectful work environment
Protects the privacy and personal life of employees
Helps to maintain a healthy company culture
Sets clear boundaries and expectations for communication
Establishes a framework for respectful interactions and avoiding misunderstandings
Helps remote workers to maintain a healthy work-life balance
Improves productivity and efficiency
Protects the company’s reputation
Mitigates the emotional effects of isolation that can come with working remotely
The Ultimate Guide to Work From Home Etiquette in 4 Steps
1. Create a Professional Workspace
Creating a professional workspace when working from home is important for increasing productivity and boosting your focus, even more so if you use the area only for work. Your professional workspace is a sacred area that should be free from distractions, comfortable, and equipped with the necessary tools to complete your tasks effectively. While it may be impossible to achieve a 100% distraction-free work environment at home, work with what you’ve got.
Start by designating a separate space for work; a dedicated room, a corner of a room, or even a small makeshift table in your closet if you’re short on space. You’ll be in this space for extended periods, so make it more visually appealing and organized. You can achieve this by keeping the area clean, using a comfortable sitting chair, including a good amount of light, and adding personal touches like plants, artwork, or pictures of loved ones to make the space feel more welcoming and intimate.
Most importantly, ensure you have the technical tools to work remotely. You will need a reliable computer, an internet connection, and essential job-specific software. Online communication is a core feature of remote work, so you should also invest in a good-quality microphone, webcam, and headphones. When creating your professional workspace, consider ergonomics in your design. Ergonomically-built chairs, keyboards, and mice can prevent injuries and reduce discomfort. You could buy a standing desk if you get tired of sitting for hours.
2. Communicate Effectively
Communicating effectively is critical when working from home since there are no in-person interactions to help streamline your collaborative and teamwork efforts. Video conferencing tools are a common solution to this challenge, allowing teams to communicate in real-time. Simulating an in-office experience, virtual meeting participants can pick up on nonverbal cues, share ideas seamlessly, and avoid misunderstandings.
In addition to video conferencing, written communication is another aspect of remote work that is equally important. Write clearly and concisely–be direct and avoid using jargon that isn’t relevant to your communications. Be mindful of your message’s tone and avoid inappropriate language that may be offensive. The respect you show to others in your writing will drive professionalism and deeper connections with your colleagues.
3. Set Boundaries and Maintain A Healthy Work-Life Balance
Setting boundaries is one of the hardest things to do when working from home. A 2021 remote work report from GitLab showed that 42% of employees struggled to set boundaries, while another 27% of remote workers found it difficult to unplug after their workday, according to Buffer. Though it is not always easy to achieve a healthier work-life balance, here are some tips you can try:
Create a schedule: Set clear work hours and assign specific time slots for personal and leisure activities.
Communicate your availability: Ensure your colleagues respect your time and understand your work expectations. Let them know when you are available and off the clock.
Log off from work after hours: Create a mental and physical separation between your personal and professional life. Once you’re done working, completely disconnect; this means not checking emails and logging out of work-related websites and applications.
Prioritize self-care: Take care of your mental and physical health through self-care activities like exercising, eating nutritious foods, meditating, and getting enough sleep.
Set boundaries for your personal life: Protect your peace and privacy once the workday is over. Do not feel obligated to disclose everything about your personal life.
Say no when necessary: Remember, it’s okay to say no to tasks or projects that are non-essential, interfere with your deadlines or go beyond your physical limitations.
Take breaks: Take breaks throughout a long work day by engaging in relaxing activities that will help you replenish your energy, like taking a short walk outside, napping, making a snack, or reading a book.
Remain adaptable and flexible to changing circumstances: Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is an ongoing process as needs and priorities change over time. Remain open to making those critical adjustments when needed.
Get help: It can be challenging to set boundaries and achieve a healthy work-life balance, so don’t be afraid to seek support from trusted, qualified figures like a counselor, life coach, or therapist.
4. Avoid the Common Remote-Work Pitfalls
While it’s nearly impossible to avoid some of the typical remote work pitfalls completely, follow the etiquette guidelines to help you overcome them within your means. If your children are a distraction, set them up with activities that keep them occupied for an extended period of time. When you’re feeling isolated and need a bit of social interaction, go out for lunch or talk on the phone with a friend. Always double and triple-check your technologies and devices to avoid recurring technical glitches. Taking these steps, while not perfect, can ease some issues you may face when working from home.
Work-from-home etiquette is an integral part of working remotely because it establishes clear standards for communication, respect, privacy, collaboration, work-life balance, positive remote-first work culture, boundaries, isolation, and productivity. By following good etiquette, you and your remote team can achieve a higher-quality work experience. Everyone benefits from good virtual office etiquette, so it’s a win-win.
FAQs About Work From Home Etiquette
Work-from-home etiquette refers to a set of standards, norms, and expectations that remote and hybrid workers must follow to maintain a healthy and productive remote work environment.