Guide to Remote Work Etiquette

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"Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot," once remarked Clarence Thomas, a figure renowned for his wisdom in the professional world. As the business landscape evolved, so did our interpretation of this adage.

In recent years, business and technology have experienced a considerable shift. The rise of remote work, especially in the tech industry, is a testament to this change. FlexJobs’ Employment Engagement Report states that 48% of employers maintain some form of remote work for their workforce. 

While technological advances have enabled us to connect, work and collaborate from any corner of the world, this newfound freedom has also brought challenges. Etiquette and manners are no longer confined to physical boardrooms and offices; they have now extended to our digital screens and virtual meetings. Similar to ethics in international business, remote working etiquette also needs to be stressed. 

In this evolving workspace, the importance of setting clear work-from-home expectations for employees cannot be overstated. Such foundations streamline workflows and maintain the decorum and professionalism paramount to success in any organisation. 

This article will address why remote working etiquette is essential for all remote and hybrid employees. 

What is Remote Work Etiquette And Why is it Important?

Remote work etiquette refers to the set of professional behaviours, practices and norms that individuals adhere to when working outside of a traditional office environment. It encompasses everything from communicating online, attending virtual meetings and presenting ourselves on video calls. Just as there are unspoken rules in a physical office, such as not interrupting someone in the middle of a conversation or ensuring punctuality at meetings, remote work has unique etiquettes that must be recognised and practised.

The importance of remote work etiquette magnifies manifolds when we consider the very nature of virtual interactions. Unlike face-to-face interactions, where nuances can be picked up through body language or tone, digital communications often lack these subtleties. Every message, email or video call needs to be unambiguous, concise and transparent when working remotely. This reduces the chances of tasks being misinterpreted or important details being overlooked. 

In a remote work setup, employees might not have the luxury of quickly popping over to a colleague's desk for clarification or immediate feedback. Hence, everyone should be on the same page about project goals, individual responsibilities, deadlines and other critical aspects.

In essence, remote working etiquette is not just about maintaining professional decorum; it's about fostering an environment where individuals can operate efficiently, even miles apart. 

Setting Work-From-Home Expectations

Remote work etiquette goes beyond online manners. One of its pillars is establishing and understanding work-from-home expectations for employees. Employers and employees pave the way for a smoother, more efficient remote working experience by being proactive and setting guidelines for working from home.

  1. Being Proactive: Laying down the foundation before the actual work begins is essential. 
  • What are the project deliverables? 
  • What is the expected timeline? 
  • What tools and platforms will be used?
  • Will there be any training sessions? 

Addressing such questions at the onset of the assignment ensures that everyone is aligned with the company's tasks, minimising the scope for misunderstandings down the line.

  1. Regular Check-ins and Updates: Regular check-ins, be it daily stand-ups or weekly reviews, are integral to work-from-home expectations for employees. Research finds nearly 8 out of 10 employees spend at least ¼ of every day in meetings, with most roles spending the majority of their workday collaborating with others. 

Such sessions provide a platform for team members to share their progress, flag potential issues and get clarity on any doubts. Without physical interactions, structured meetings bridge communication gaps and help manage remote teams.

  1. Encouraging Open Communication: Remote work brings with it unique challenges. It could be a technological glitch or a personal issue hindering one's ability to work efficiently. In 2021, 36% of respondents working from home stated that their Internet connection is slower than in the office. 

Employers should provide timely solutions by fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their challenges, ensuring the workflow remains uninterrupted.

Key Working-From-Home Rules to Follow

Delving into the specifics of remote work etiquette, certain working-from-home rules emerge as fundamental. Adhering to these rules is paramount for maintaining professionalism, efficiency and work-life balance in a remote setting:

  1. Designating a Professional Workspace at Home: One of the foremost guidelines for working from home is having a dedicated workspace. It doesn't necessarily have to be an elaborate home office, but a specific spot that signals 'work mode' can significantly boost productivity. 

The latest research findings reveal that those with a dedicated workspace are less distracted. This marked workspace allows for better focus and provides a professional backdrop for virtual meetings.

  1. Avoiding Distractions: Working from home can come with its set of unique distractions, be it household chores, the allure of the TV or the urge to take a quick nap. 1 in 5 Americans (21.7%) say they have taken a nap while on the clock remotely.

Cultivating the discipline to resist these distractions is a crucial rule in the remote work playbook. Setting short breaks or using productivity apps can help maintain focus and ensure work gets done efficiently. 

  1. Maintaining Regular Working Hours and Setting Boundaries: Just because one works from home doesn't mean the lines between personal and professional time should blur. However, setting these boundaries is one of the biggest challenges that remote workers face. 

According to Buffer State of Remote Work 2023, 48% of remote workers say they frequently work outside traditional work hours and another 44 % have worked more this year than last year.

Work-From-Home Expectations for Employees

The paradigm shift towards remote work brings about fresh challenges and responsibilities. For employees, understanding and adhering to specific work from home expectations is crucial for individual productivity, seamless team collaboration and safeguarding company interests. Here are some of these pivotal expectations:

  1. Dressing Appropriately for Video Calls: While working from the comfort of one's home might seem like an invitation to stay in pyjamas all day, maintaining a level of professionalism is essential. 

When it comes to video calls with team members or clients, dressing appropriately mirrors the decorum one would maintain in a physical office setting. Not only does this portray a professional image, but it also mentally prepares an individual for a productive work session.

  1. Providing Regular Status Updates on Tasks: Transparent and frequent communication becomes the lifeblood of a remote working environment. Employees are expected to update their supervisors and team on their progress consistently. Regular status reports eliminate guesswork, align team efforts and ensure that projects stay on track.
  1. Seeking Clarity: In remote settings, the absence of casual desk-side chats or immediate face-to-face clarification can lead to ambiguities. It's essential for employees to seek clarity whenever in doubt proactively. 

A simple query can prevent potential misunderstandings, ensuring the work aligns with the company's objectives.

  1. Balancing Work and Personal Life: Personal and professional life boundaries can blur in a work-from-home setting. While commitment to tasks is admirable, it's equally vital to disconnect and take breaks. Deloitte's study reveals burnout is among the top reasons millennials and GenZ left their employers in the last two years. 
  1. Respecting Different Time Zones: As companies adopt a global outlook, teams often span continents. An essential work-from-home expectation is being aware of colleagues' time zones. Scheduling meetings at mutually convenient times showcases respect for their work-life balance and fosters a more collaborative environment.
  1. Prioritising Cybersecurity: The digital sphere is rife with threats and remote work can potentially expose sensitive company data. One of the crucial work from home expectations includes using company-approved software and tools to prioritise cybersecurity. This means using strong, unique passwords to ensure secure internet connections. Updating the latest security protocols keeps the employee and the company safeguarded.

While remote work offers flexibility and many benefits, it also demands a heightened sense of responsibility and discipline. Meeting these work from home expectations ensures that employees can thrive in this new-age working model, benefiting themselves and the organisations they represent.

Use Rapid to Simplify Remote Working 

Setting the guidelines for work from home may not always be a uniform process concerning a team comprising people from different parts of the world. With differing time zones to local labour laws, businesses must be mindful of work regulations. While careful research can help, hiring decisions can also take up a lot of time. We suggest partnering with a trusted EOR, who has deep knowledge of the land and can help you strategise per regulatory compliance. 

You can rely on Rapid for hiring freelancers or remote workers from India. Not only will our trained team guide you in the right direction, but also take care of other related HR activities such as payroll management. We offer comprehensive health coverage and customised benefits, boosting employee satisfaction. In all facets of payroll management, from salary disbursement to tax deductions, we ensure strict compliance with Indian regulations. We can help you formulate all working from home rules, as they apply to this diverse country. 

Schedule a demo to know all about our services. 

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