Working from home is no longer just for freelancers and part-timers. It has become a full-time work mode for most office staffers. Professional effectiveness demands a new set of professional etiquette. In this series, we’ll explore many important aspects. Let’s start with getting ready for calls.
Many of us are required to make or receive video calls regularly. Such calls often include multiple participants. Just as in the office, attire on video calls counts for a lot. Unlike the office, however, work-from-home attire is not influenced by the constraints of weather, commute, and other factors. It is largely a matter of personal choice. We can present ourselves exactly how we want. The recommendation is to dress for the job you want.
Toronto-based certified etiquette consultant Lisa Orr believes that “getting yourself put together makes you feel better, makes you more confident, and helps you feel more prepared.” She further suggests to “choose something that makes you feel good and represents you in the way you want to be seen.” However, you choose to dress and be mindful that attire is a big part of your impression.
Video conferencing is commonplace now. Fumbling about on calls is no longer acceptable. Prepare your environment and be in control of it. This includes lighting, sound, and everything you’ll need on the call. The environment also encompasses whatever is visible in the frame of your laptop’s camera. In an interview with ZDNet Verizon, President of Global Enterprise Sampath, Somyanarayan said this about video calls, “You’re letting people into your house, so be mindful of your surroundings.”
Invest in a good lighting solution, a great pair of headphones (preferably over-ear), and an external microphone with noise cancellation. It’s important to have a suitable background too. What’s visible of the room in the camera frame must be organized and free of clutter. After all, background reflects personality.
When working from home, it is not easy to cut out all distractions. This applies more so with children or pets around. Minimize distractions with control measures. Canada’s premier job portal Randstad Interim Inc. recommends physically separating the workspace from the rest of the home. Setup the workspace in the quietest room of the house. Keep the door shut when on a call. The Government of Canada’s NRCan (Natural Resources Canada) Division suggests placing a bookshelf in the room. Books absorb sound, which could improve call quality. A bookshelf in the background can also make the setting look more professional.
Our productivity depends on the reliability of our Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Internet connections must be fast. More importantly, they must be stable. Fortunately, Canada has over 50 major ISPs. Most are reliable and affordable. Acanac in Ontario offers 50 Mbps connections with unlimited data transfers for CAD 29.95 per month. Ontario province is home to the largest population of migrants in the country (132,417 as of 2019). Many of them rely on connectivity to send money online to their families as remittances. Distributel is another good option. It offers 75 Mbps unlimited internet connections for CAD 35 monthly. Wired connections are generally more reliable than wireless. Those of us who rely on wireless connectivity should get a good wireless router or access points. A router from a brand such as Netgear, Asus, or TP-Link is a good bet. Be sure to check specifications such as supported technology (cable, DSL, fiber, etc.) and wireless range.
Uninterrupted connectivity is extra important for some of us. A backup connection from a different ISP is advisable for such mission-critical work. In a pinch, a mobile phone can be used as an internet connection to a laptop. Turn on the ‘hotspot’ feature on your phone. However, it is nowhere as fast as broadband. You are also very likely to incur extra charges from your mobile service provider.
A big part of our readiness for video calls is having all our essential apps in place. These could be on our phones or computers, depending on what we primarily use. Having a backup is generally helpful. It is best to install apps on both devices. Communication apps like Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, and others allow for simultaneous logins on both devices. Also, we must be very familiar and proficient with the frequently used features of our apps.
Finally, it is important to secure our data. A premium cloud storage subscription such as Office365 or Google One is a good investment. Storing files in the cloud makes them secure from hacks and easier to share.
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.