Protocol and Professionalism in a Telecommuting Environment | Three Factors to Excellence

Normally, when you are getting ready for work you consider several factors: 1.  Is what I am wearing to work appropriate and is it ironed? 2.  Will I be on time? 3.  What is my schedule when I arrive to work?
When working from home in a virtual, telecommuting environment these factors remain crucial but need just a little tweaking.
One, it is still highly important that you look your best. Studies have shown that if you look your best, you do your best. Even if no one will see you today, getting dressed will increase your productivity and motivate you. Wearing your pajamas may be an option but it will be a barrier to productivity that you’ll have to overcome. Though comfortable, your body will still continue to feel sleepy and perhaps lazy as it associates these clothes with sleeping or lounging. Also, though you may be able to wear t-shirts or other casual attire to a telecommuting environment an impression can be made that you are exceptional and you take this job and your professionalism seriously by dressing in a more professional manner though you don’t necessarily have to.
Two, there is no commute for a telecommuter. You move from one room to the next and there is your commute – done and dusted. It’s wonderful. This comfortable situation though could create problems. Putting these tips into practice will be a benefit to you and to your company:

  • Technology depends solely on you. It can be wise to test your microphone or webcam with a trusted coworker before conference calls.
  • Call into meetings 5 to 10 minutes before. If there is technical glitch you can most likely realize and fix it before the meeting starts and you can be assured no one is waiting on you to begin the meeting.
  • Always have an additional way to attend a meeting if one form of technology fails. For example, if your computer experiences some random problems or the Internet is malfunctioning then you are quickly able to call into meetings using your phone.
  • Have the information for gaining access to meetings up and ready, even after you are in the meeting. You will never regret preemptively being prepared. If you were driving into a meeting you would try to get there at least 15 minutes early and be prepared in knowing what room the meeting is being held in. This is no different.
  • Verify with coworkers which platform meetings are running on if you are unsure. It is much better to ask beforehand then to miss a meeting because of misinformation or assuming.
  • Stay focused. In a telecommuting situation you could easily be multitasking while in a conference. Try to be fully present within the meeting. Jot down notes and action items. If you were physically present in a meeting you would have to be fully present and focused because you would probably not have a computer in front of you but rather the presenter. When you are not the one speaking on a call it is hard to remain focused. Try different strategies that can help you personally.
  • Verbalize agreement and feedback. In a virtual meeting there can be dead silent when the presenter is done speaking. If appropriate, be sure to respond verbally. This is crucial in creating synergy and producing impactful results in business. Sharing your ideas, concerns and affirmations verbally during a conference is necessary and vital to a telecommuting environment being successful.

Three, in an office environment you have coworkers physically with you. When everyone starts leaving and heading to the lunch room you become aware it is lunchtime or they ask if you want anything and to join when they head out to eat. Or when everyone in your department attends a meeting you see or hear it happening and it can alert you to what is happening no matter how engaged you are with your work. In a telecommuting environment this changes. No one will have your back but you. If you are in depth in your work and miss a meeting, what good was your focus? Setting additional reminders on your phone or computer and having a clock in addition to the one on your computer can help. I can’t tell you how many coworkers have missed meetings due to being unaware of the time because they are working at home.
Also, be sure to take a lunch break. Though you could continue to be productive just eating at your house and breezing through, taking a walk or going to eat somewhere can help your mind be more productive when you get back to your desk. For an extrovert it can also help give you the energy you need to finish the day’s work by engaging with the world around you for a bit. (More on personality type and telecommuting soon.)
Anna Saah is not only our CFO but also a licensed therapist. She is an extrovert who has been telecommuting from home the last 2 years. If you need help implementing or developing telecommuting technology or need training and consulting for your organization contact us at 888.983.2322.

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