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Telework Managers

Telework Etiquette Quick Tips

Meeting Etiquette:

  • When scheduling any meeting, set up a conference line so that coworkers always have the option to participate remotely if necessary.
  • When sharing documents during the meeting, plan ahead and send files to any coworkers who will be participating remotely, or setup a virtual collaboration room, using agency approved technology; such as Adobe Connect, Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, WebEx, etc.
  • If there are more than 2 or 3 people in the physical meeting, make it a habit of stating your name when you speak to help avoid confusion about who is talking.  Encourage meeting participants to do the same.
  • Encourage participation from remote participants.  Team members sitting in on the other end of the phone line have no way of signaling to the group that they want to speak.
  • Manage engagement.  When possible, have remote workers lead a portion of the call so that they have an active role.
  • If there are several remote workers on the line, take time at the beginning of the call to ask them to mute their phone lines when they are not talking in order to minimize background noise.

Conference Call Etiquette:

  • When participating in meetings, find a quiet space and join the meeting from somewhere free of loud background noise. When not speaking, remember to mute your phone to minimize background noise.
  • If some team members are physically in the room, make sure they speak close to the phone so people on the conference line are able to hear clearly.
  • Be an active listener on conference calls by verbally acknowledging that you are listening, by using short statements to paraphrase the main takeaways, and asking for permission to ask questions.
  • Regularly give and receive feedback.  When giving feedback to your colleagues, ensure it is specific, constructive and empathetic.  Use your feedback to discuss outcomes and actions.
  • Be fully engaged and give the remote meeting your full attention.  Avoid multi-tasking or reading emails.
  • If you have something to contribute or missed something that someone said, be sure to jump in rather than waiting to be asked as meeting facilitators cannot read your body language and may not recognize the need to pause and invite your participation.
  • If participating in a meeting via webcam, be presentable. Remember, getting dressed for work will help you get in a mindset for work.
  • Explore various agency approved technology options to facilitate seamless communication with your team (e.g., video conferencing, IM, and Microsoft Lync).
  • Keep your calendar up to date to avoid confusion and breakdown in communication.

Ways to Stay Connected:

  • Let colleagues, managers, and customers know where and when you are working. It is important that others know how to reach you, and when you are available for meetings.
  • Share your calendar with your team members.
  • Use email effectively.  Use the subject line to alert the reader to the topic, the level of urgency, and the required action.
  • Use Instant Messaging (IM), or other similar tools supported at your agency, as a means for quick questions and answers.  Despite the informal nature of IM, always begin with a greeting, and remain courteous and professional.
  • Stay connected to your workplace and team members by being available and responsive (e.g., answer calls and respond to emails promptly).
  • Agree to communication guidelines with your manager and team members to establish a common expectation for responding to queries and emails.
  • Decide with your manager and team whether it would be helpful to designate core hours or days when team members are in the office or available for meetings and conference calls.

Additional Tips:

  • Maintain relationships with team members and managers through agency approved tools; such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Instant Messaging (IM).  Share calendars with team members.  Be mindful of different time zones and working time.  Respect free and busy times, even if you are working when others are not.
  • Choose the most effective communication channels based on the context. For a complex or potentially difficult conversation, have it in person or using a web­cam.
  • Establish communication guidelines with your manager and team to establish a common expectation for responding to queries and emails.
  • Use email effectively.  Use the subject line to alert the reader to the topic, the level of urgency, and the required action. 
  • Decide as a group how to make use of agency approved technologies to facilitate seamless communication with virtual workers (e.g., videoconferencing, IM, Skype, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Lync, etc.). For example, use Instant Messaging as a tool for quick questions and answers.