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working remotely

Good communication with coworkers is normally a part of good business etiquette in offices everywhere. But, around the world, a significant number of professionals have been forced to work from home because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

So, the question is…How do you maintain professionalism with coworkers while working remotely? Even though working from home is a new journey for many professionals, practicing simple business etiquette with remote coworkers is still a necessary part of professional communication.

Here are 12 ways you can maintain professionalism while communicating with your coworkers remotely.


Calm is Contagious.

“Meet” remotely with coworkers early on to establish expectations and guidelines for working remotely. It’s amazing how this initial open conversation can help ease fear, confusion, and questions about how the company plans to proceed remotely. Don’t leave coworkers guessing about expectations in this “new normal.”

Maintain some semblance of “office hours.”

Determine with your team what general  “office hours” will be. Try to coincide remote working hours with regular working hours as much as possible. For example, if normal office hours are 8-5, perhaps set remote hours from 9-4. It doesn’t mean that a meeting can’t be scheduled after 4 p.m., but it gives more flexibility to coworkers with young children at home.

Establish a practical lunch break time;

Perhaps 12-1 is good or 11:30-1. This ensures that everyone has enough time to eat, care for family needs, or take the dog on a short walk.

Continue using your professional electronic calendar with coworkers.

Try to schedule meetings within the established remote “office hours.” If possible, avoid scheduling “lunchtime meetings” without checking with coworkers ahead of time. Some coworkers may need the lunch break to also help with children’s lunches or take care of other family needs.

Decide with coworkers the best way to communicate with each other.

Do some coworkers prefer texting and others prefer that you email them? Do what works best for each coworker to communicate effectively and efficiently.

Return phone calls and respond to emails in a timely manner.

Don’t leave coworkers hanging especially if someone needs information to get their part of a project done. Respond to voice mail messages and emails by the end of the “remote” workday, if possible, or by first thing the next morning.

Text if you’re “running late” to a ZOOM meeting.

Things come up unexpectedly when working from home. Let the meeting facilitator know via text if you’ll be a few minutes late. The facilitator can decide whether it’s best to start the meeting on time or wait until you can check-in.

Be patient!

Not everyone who has transitioned to remote working has easy access to the same office equipment at home such as scanners and printers. This means it often takes more time to get documents passed around to others for review or signatures.

Be sensitive to the needs and emotions of coworkers.

Perhaps after a team meeting with everyone, take time to connect with each member of the team before the end of the week to ask how they’re doing. They need to know that you care about them as individuals and their families. Convey to them you are there to help in any way.

Avoid “difficult conversations” on team video calls.

No one likes to be called out for something negative in front of the group. Pick up the phone to speak to a coworker individually about a matter that reflects on either of you in a negative or embarrassing manner.

Look the part.

It’s certainly fine to dress as casually and comfortably as you want when you work remotely. But, if you occasionally have a 7:00 a.m. ZOOM meeting, don’t appear like you just rolled out of bed! You can wear your pajamas or yoga pants, but at least put on appropriate “work attire” from the waist up!

Have fun!

Think of ways to still have fun, laugh together, and enjoy the camaraderie as coworkers. Start the team meeting with a good joke. Wear funny hats at a coworker’s birthday ZOOM meeting. Have everyone bring a drink of choice to a Friday Happy Hour ZOOM meeting.

It’s actually simple and fun to maintain professionalism with your coworkers while working remotely. These 12 tips will help you “co-exist” and communicate in an enjoyable and fun way as you work remotely with each other.

You may also like to read Good Communication in the Workplace.

Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette expert, speaker, and trainer. You may contact her at 918.970.4400 for additional information on her business etiquette training services or to speak at your event. She is currently preparing business etiquette protocols for post-COVID-19.


Image source: Unsplash