Why You Need to Document Your Company’s Work From Home Etiquette

Working from home is hardly a novelty anymore, and has in fact become a normal part of working life. It’s likely to stay that way too, given the existing demand for more flexibility and, of course, that little thing called “the pandemic”.

Back in the spring, businesses were scrambling to get their remote working standards to a reasonable level so that people could continue to communicate, collaborate, and be productive. Understandably, there was little time to define remote working best practises.

Now that the dust has settled, business leaders should look at ways to formalise the etiquette surrounding remote working. It’s unwise to assume that everyone – especially new recruits – fully understands the unwritten rules of your organisation, even if things are ticking along nicely. Without formal guidance, you risk running into issues if you later uncover unacceptable remote working behaviours.

Documenting your company’s expectations around video meetings, instant messaging, and internal social media will give everyone the guidance they need to work from home in the best possible way. Once you’ve written up your guidelines, remember to make them easily accessible on your corporate intranet and share them on your internal news channels. Here are a few examples to help you get started:

Video meetings

Until recently, many of us had little experience of taking part in video meetings on such a frequent scale. What was once an ad-hoc occasion is now an everyday event, so now’s the time to formally define the dos and don’ts of video call etiquette.

When creating your own video meeting guidelines, be clear about elements like using video filters, turning video off, and backgrounds. You may want to discourage staff from using distracting filters during an important meeting, for example, but allow them to be used during social calls. Document some best practises for those who are leading video meetings too, such as making introductions at the beginning of every call and ending the meeting with time left for questions.

Why You Need to Document Your Company’s Work From Home Etiquette | Claromentis
Using video filters during meetings: yay or nay?

Instant messaging

Instant messaging tools are great for asking questions and emulating water-cooler conversations, but they can also be a huge distraction when used inappropriately. @mentioning the whole company to ask a question that could be directed to one person, for example, disrupts everyone from their workflow unnecessarily. It’s the virtual equivalent of sounding a klaxon in the middle of the office.

Why You Need to Document Your Company’s Work From Home Etiquette | Claromentis

Prevent these misdemeanours by setting out some instant messaging best practises for your staff to follow. Include examples of when it’s appropriate to notify the entire workforce (ie. emergencies only), when to tag specific team members (ie. when you need a response right away), and when it might be better to take the conversation elsewhere instead (ie. via a phone call or email).

Internal social media

Collaboration tools have been an enormous asset during the pandemic. Tools like internal social media and discussion spaces have given staff an online forum to share ideas, collaborate on projects, and communicate with different teams from afar. They are not, however, the place to discuss confidential or sensitive matters. The public nature of internal social media means that teams must be mindful about the content they share and the conversations they have.

Document what is and isn’t appropriate for staff to post on your internal social channels, and use policy management software to distribute the guidelines. By formalising the process you can track who has read and accepted the policy, and remind those who haven’t with a notification nudge.

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