Working from home? Mind your manners in online meetings


By Brett Molina, USA TODAY 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to push us toward social isolation, one of the strategies many businesses are using is options for employees to work from home.

Several tech companies including Google and Twitter have urged employees to stay away from offices and work remotely as officials in the U.S. attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The shift to the at-home work environment is more than just finding the right space to help you focus, or downloading the appropriate software to do your job. It's about following some simple etiquette to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Here are some basic tips to consider if you're working from home during the pandemic:


The mute button is your best friend

Maybe you're in a meeting and you want to eat lunch while listening, or your kids are at home having way too much fun. It's likely not something your coworkers want to hear. Use the mute button often. If you're not talking, mute. If you're eating, mute. Taking an extra couple seconds to unmute yourself during a meeting or call is better than everyone else hearing you chew food.


Get some reliable headphones

It's not just about making sure you can easily hear conversations happening on a remote call, but conveying your thoughts without everyone asking you to speak up. Any headphones or earbuds with a quality microphone are ideal, and can help things go smoothly.


Have options for conference calls

Is your video call slowing your computer, or your Internet bandwidth makes it look like your colleagues are frozen in time? Try just calling from your phone. Most video conferencing tools include phone numbers to dial as a back up just in case your computer or Internet connection causes frustration. A simple tip: Test your headphones before a meeting by calling a co-worker, family member or friend.


Always be communicating

No one ever expects you to be in front of your computer at all times. You want to get lunch, or take a walk? Go for it. Just make sure everyone that needs to know about it – like a supervisor – is kept up to date on your whereabouts.


Dress appropriately, if necessary

If your work-at-home life involves a lot of video calls, consider dressing as if you're working in the office. Wearing sweatpants at home is tempting, but maybe save them for another time.

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