The gig economy has created work environments that are different from the ones we were used to. The changes that have happened in the way people approach work have resulted in the growth of freelance and remote work. When we are in office spaces that we share with our colleagues, there are certain codes of conduct that we follow in order to make sure that we create comfortable and conducive environments for those we work with. While office etiquette may be common knowledge, it differs when the workforce is employed remotely. Here are some tips that may help you develop good remote work etiquette.
- Make sure your calendar is always updated
For any freelancer or remote worker, your calendar is one of the most important tools that can help you become more effective. While it reminds you of your obligations and can be used to make sure you don’t miss anything, your calendar also ensures that your workmates and clients know when you are free. When you are in different parts of the world, it may be difficult to coordinate meetings or appointments for a job that may require simultaneous contributions in real-time. When your calendar is updated properly, it should show your working hours and the times that you are occupied by other tasks during working hours. To make it easier to set up your calendar, make use of applications such as Calendly.
- Be present and attentive in meetings
When participating in a virtual meeting, it is easy to be distracted by things that may be in your physical space. Sometimes, you might just zone out. When you are distracted, it is easy for your workmates to see and it affects the flow of the meeting. If you need to contribute to the meeting, being distracted will affect the quality of said contribution. Remove any potential distractions from your physical space before you attend a virtual meeting. Also, make sure that the room you are in is quiet and guarded against any intrusion by other people. Give the meeting your full attention and have the presence of mind to participate fully when need be. Giving your coworkers your full attention in meetings is one of the best signs of good remote work etiquette.
- Be “at work” when you are expected to be
There is a common misconception that freelance and remote work means that you are always free to do as you wish. In most cases, there are certain times that you will be expected to be available online. This is done in a bid to ensure that if any of your workmates need your help, they can find you ready to execute your part of the task. If you are always unavailable during the stipulated work hours, it gives the impression that you are treating your job as a secondary item that you attend to when you have some spare time which shouldn’t be the case. Make sure that you are clear with your clients or employers about the times they expect you to be “at work” so as to avoid not being available when you are needed.
- Keep work-related inquiries within working hours
When you are working remotely, it is easy to forget that you are still operating within stipulated working hours and you might find yourself trying to reach coworkers outside of normal working hours. No matter which system you are working in, it is encouraged that you keep work-related issues within working hours and respect the boundaries that are set by your coworkers. If it is something that cannot wait until the next working hours, consider sending an email or text message before you call. In your message, offer an apology for reaching out outside work hours before you state your case. It is important for your workmates to know that you are respectful of their private time. Some remote workers may be digital nomads so it’s important to always be in the loop regarding which timezones your workmates are operating in.
- Make sure your communication is at its best and make no assumptions
Communication is the oil that keeps the remote work machine operating smoothly. Without proper communication, there is a lot of room for assumption and this might affect your productivity. If you communicate clearly and as regularly as you should, you leave little to no room for tasks to go undone or unfinished as everyone will be on the same page about what needs to be done. So make sure that your communication is at its best. If there are work boards that need to be updated, do so as these are a part of the communication channels that you have with your coworkers. Do not assume that because you have a grasp of something, everyone else on the team does.
By following these tips, you can improve your remote work etiquette and become a better team member. Remember that your coworkers are people who have other things they do outside of the work environment and respect their time outside of working hours. Be available when you are required to be and ensure that you are attentive when the situation demands your attention. A remote working environment is still a working environment and we all need to treat it as such.