Working at home doesn’t leave you immune to office politics and annoyances. You and your telecommuting colleagues can still manage to get under each others’ skin if you aren’t careful. Check out a few of the most common telecommuting etiquette offenses to see if you might be alienating your co-workers:
1. Background Noise on Phone Calls
Your co-workers don’t need to hear your children, dogs, or television during a conference call, phone training, or Google Hangout. Call from a quiet area of your home and use your mute button to block out background noise when you’re not speaking.
2. Terrible Email Response Time
Not responding to emails in a timely fashion can leave colleagues hanging in limbo. When you get an email, send a quick acknowledgement, even if you can’t offer a full response. If the matter seems urgent, or you won’t be able to respond within a couple of hours, give the sender a timeframe for expecting your reply.
3. Poor Email Communication
Imagine this: You work in an office where a colleague comes to work dressed in mismatched clothes, has uncombed hair, and is deficient in personal hygiene. Even worse, this person mumbles and uses atrocious grammar every time he speaks. Looking at, listening to, and smelling this person is utterly dreadful, and even perfunctory interactions become an ordeal.
For telecommuters, having to read a co-worker’s poorly formatted, typo-ridden, misspelled emails is a similar ordeal. If your spelling or grammar isn’t good, run your emails through a grammar and spell check. Avoid long paragraphs and break up large chunks of text into smaller, more easily read content. Keep your fonts a reasonable size and type in black, only using color if you need to make a word or section stand out.
Nobody likes a Negative Nellie, so keep your complaints to yourself. If asked for feedback, watch how you frame criticism. Mention things that you like about a proposal or idea, while also stating your concerns. After offering a negative opinion, offer some ideas for alternatives.
5. You are Late to Meetings
Being consistently late to meetings shows your co-workers disrespect. Your co-workers or fellow contractors have other obligations. When you keep them waiting, you interfere with their business, personal, and family time, which doesn’t foster good feelings.
6. Over-Posting and Over-Sharing
If your employer provides its telecommuters with an online forum for sharing information, be careful about what, and how often, you post. Be careful about sharing personal details and don’t dominate discussions. Even if the forum allows for some chitchat about things other than work, it’s important to remain professional.
7. You’re a Suck Up
Sucking-up to the boss isn’t going to win you any points with colleagues. In fact, it probably won’t earn you much respect from your superiors, either. Don’t flatter your boss in emails or on conference calls or become her yes-man. Maintain appropriate boundaries and don’t be afraid to politely challenge your boss on important issues.
The fact that you telecommute doesn’t mean that you don’t work with others. Showing consideration for co-workers is both a professional responsibility and the right thing to do. Plus, a co-worker may eventually become a supervisor or someone who could give you a reference, so showing appropriate respect now could pay off big in the future.
Have you ever had to work with a difficult or irritating telecommuting co-worker? How did you handle the situation?