Learn about some considerations about virtual meetings and the importance of reducing home distractions.
- When you're working from home, most of your meetings will be via video or phone conferencing. It's essential that you treat these virtual meetings with care and respect. The way in which you engage with your coworkers in these meetings often determines the quality of the work relationship that you share. Consider for a moment the things that you would do and wouldn't do if you were having a face-to-face meeting with them. For example, you would give your coworkers your full attention. You would arrive on-time or early.
You would, where appropriate, make eye contact with people. You would make sure that you can hear people clearly and see people clearly. You would show up and be prepared. You would be able to show people the work that you're doing so that you can collaborate. Everything that I just listed are things that you can still do in a virtual meeting. When you're talking with people, you can shut down any kind of window that might be open that might distract. If you have your email open in the background, you're going to have a hard time focusing on the person, and they will sense that you're multitasking on them.
You can prepare to arrive early, and you can do a technical check-in in advance to make sure that there's nothing that's going to get in the way of you having a productive meeting with this person. You can set up your camera so that it's as close as possible to their virtual face, thus improving eye contact. You can make sure that you can share your screen with them and show them anything that you're working on to make it easy to collaborate. Now, there are a few extra things to consider when working from home.
First, try as much as possible to reduce any kind of background noise. This means that, if possible, you give a heads-up to people that share your living space and let them know you're going to be in a meeting for the next hour. I don't mean telling them, I need you to be quiet. Rather, give them a heads up of when the meeting will occur. Most people, if they're aware, will try to do something to help accommodate you, such as go outside or do their work quietly.
Also, remove any kind of visual distractions to the other participants. This means that you want to be aware of what the video looks like behind you. Avoid having a monitor or television on behind you, or being in a high-traffic area where people are going to be walking back and forth. Additionally, as a general rule, make sure that you have a clean, strong internet connection to the people that you're working with. Much of this depends upon the type of connection that you have, and the internet service provider that you're using.
I recommend that you make the investment to get the best connection that you can, or ask your employer to help provide that for you. Having a strong connection also means shutting down any kind of background program that may interfere with the meeting. For instance, a file synchronization service should usually be paused or turned off during this time, because it may try to sync during the meeting, which will disrupt the flow of traffic.
Occasionally, I'll even pause virus protection during the meeting, and then re-enable it afterword. One final note, your workplace there may or may not have a dress code. If not, there may be at least an unspoken standard of how people dress when at work. While you don't need to dress your very best when you're in a virtual meeting, you certainly want to be respectful of the people that you're going to meet with. This means that if you know how they normally dress at the office, it's a good idea to make an effort to match that standard address.
In other words, if you know everyone at the office wear's a button-up shirt, and you show up with a graphic T-shirt, you may create a bit of a disconnect between the culture at work and where you are at home. Make a small effort to show that you care and that you want to be a part of the company culture even if you're thousands of miles away. By putting a little thought and care into how you prepare, and arrive for these virtual meetings, you'll build a stronger relationship with your coworkers and ensure that the way that you work together will be as productive as possible.
Note: This course was featured in Market Watch, Inc., Fortune, Forbes, and Entrepreneur.
- Create a productive environment by limiting distractions.
- Evaluate and choose the best technology to increase your productivity.
- Differentiate between constant effort and a healthy working rhythm.
- Define expectations around communication while remaining responsive.
- Identify the benefits of relationship building.
- Learn how to manage interruptions and emergencies at home.