Social distancing has now become a must and working from home (if you’re able to) is imperative to keep other people, and yourself, safe. To ensure digital interactions are as effective as face-to-face ones, there are so many digital tools that can help you and your team keep up with meetings, calls and presentations.
That said, if you aren’t familiar with these tools outside of the current situation, there might be a few extra things you can do to help maximise your success. From muting your mic to managing group chats, here’s all you need to know about digital etiquette whilst working from home.
Emailing has been an important part of people’s jobs, and personal lives, for going on two decades now. Still, now might be the time for a quick refresher on best practices.
- Use a clear subject line, proofread your copy and have a thorough signature.
- Ensure that your tone and language is neutral. Especially right now, when people’s inboxes are likely flooded with bad news and every businesses’ COVID-19 updates, language is really important.
- Try to avoid using words that are emotionally charged, like collapsing, impossible and devastated. It’s completely fair to feel that way, but it’s difficult to know how your words might affect someone else’s mental state.
- Frequency is really important. You don’t want to be just one more person cluttering someone’s inbox, so limit any unnecessary emails and be very clear about what is urgent and what is not.
- Only select reply all if everyone on the original email is relevant to your response.
- Last, but not least, consider the number of emails you send. A year of correspondence could add 136 kg of emissions to your carbon footprint, which is the equivalent of driving more than 300 km in a car.
Right now, programs like Slack might be replacing the usual cross-desk catch ups that happen in your office. Here’s how to use them effectively.
- It’s important to keep things to the point. Try to consolidate all of what you’d like to say into one message.
- To make those longer messages more digestible, break them out into bullet points, and italicise or bold extra important parts.
- Make maximum use of threads. Particularly if you and only a few members of your team are working on a project, it can be a great way to keep everyone in the loop.
- When you’re away from your desk, be sure to update your status so everyone knows you might be unreachable for a few minutes.
- Especially during these challenging times, be extra caring. Use your chat software to check in with people and show genuine interest in their wellbeing. A liberal use of emojis is highly recommended.
Getting face time in with your team can help everyone feel and stay connected in a more meaningful way while working from home. Zoom, FaceTime and WhatsApp video calls are all great options. Regardless of what program you’re using, there’s lots to consider when you’re prepping for a video call, and during your video call.
- Be aware of your surroundings and make sure your background isn’t too distracting.
- Make sure it’s relatively quiet, and the lighting is decent with minimal backlighting.
- Depending on who you are meeting with, be sure to look as you would for any in-person meeting. As with anything, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
- Make sure your internet connection is working well, and if you’re able, plug right into your modem to limit any breaks in your connection.
- Plug in your computer, as well, to avoid your battery running out.
- Especially if you are the host, aim to be the first to log in so no one is waiting in silence.
- When the meeting does begin, be sure to mute your mic when you’re not speaking and give people lots of space to finish what they’re saying.
Participating in webinars
A lot of brands are replacing events and launches with virtual meet ups or webinars. If you’re participating in a webinar as a panellist or host while working from home, similar rules apply as with the above advice for video meetings.
- Arrive on time, take turns speaking and mute your mic when you’re not speaking.
- Stick to the agenda for the webinar and try to stay as close as possible to the topic if you have something to add.
- Slow your speech a bit and take pauses between thoughts.
- If you’re including graphics or any other visual aids in your webinar, keep it simple and use bullet points for any text.
- When it comes to responding to questions from your viewers, consider repeating the question for anyone who might have missed it before you respond.
- If you are asking a question, keep it concise and avoid double-barrelled questions.
- When wrapping up a webinar, be sure to encourage people to continue engaging with your content and register for your next one.
To summarise, whatever digital medium you use, keep it to the point, always mute your mic, be as clear as possible, and use neutral and unemotional language. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call people or use video. Body language and tone are things that you can’t replicate always replicate in text.
If you want to connect with us and have stories to share, please email us on email@example.com. Stay well and stay positive.
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Written by - Tara MacInnis