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Digital Etiquette Mastery: Navigating Time, Dress, and Communication in Remote Business

Why is remote meeting etiquette important?

Digital Etiquette may seem like Common Sense, but I’m telling you now, it will blow your mind how far from this it seems especially with many more people being demanded to return to physical offices. It also comes into play about different cultures, ages, and experiences as to what interactions people have had in the workplace and therefore how they execute digital etiquette.

Now I’m not saying this should be any different to relationships if you have physical offices however it feels as though there is less respect when either or both parties are remote. Virtual meeting. Remote meeting. Whatever you want to call it, we need to lay down some rules of engagement for digital meeting etiquette. As a remote business owner, any business meetings I have are … yes you guessed it … Online. GMeet, Zoom, Whatsapp video – same same but different. The difference is the respect the attendee(s) have for that meeting. Remote meeting etiquette is crucial because it ensures that virtual interactions are conducted professionally and efficiently. It helps in maintaining clarity in communication, respecting participants’ time and contributions, and fostering a positive and productive meeting environment. Proper etiquette in remote meetings minimises misunderstandings, promotes effective collaboration, and upholds the professional image of an organisation, which is essential for successful remote work dynamics.

Setting the Standard: Navigating Communication Channels in Remote Work

Misconception: Immediate Responses Are Expected: In the digital realm, there's often an expectation of instant responses, which can conflict with the need for thoughtful, well-considered replies that are standard in face-to-face interactions.

We are not front-line workers and therefore nothing we do requires any form of immediate response. In both our client agreements and our people agreements, it says Slack is our form of communication, not “one of”, but IS. This is VERY clear and on purpose. After tears of working remotely and running a business remotely, it is important to establish the boundaries from an “always on” culture. Our set-up on Slack means a client has a project team assigned to them who is their direct point of contact and usually a “backup” contact person. We then also have internal channels with the whole project team to make it easier for updates from the Project Director sharing information at the same time with everyone.

Anything out of this communication of Slack that causes issues. Trust me. It’s cost me already. Emails get drowned in masses of other emails, get blocked because of heavy files, or have comments/ feedback too late. 

From an internal perspective of the project team involved, as we are all remote and have our own preferred working time of say, plus across multiple different time zones, as part of onboarding with us, I tell everyone to set their working hours in Slack settings. We do not store any personal mobile phone numbers for any of our team members as there is nothing which will ever need to contact them in their personal time.

Digital Don'ts: Common Pitfalls in Remote Etiquette

  • A client sending any documents not via Slack or your agreed communication channel
  • A client ringing several times without notice and no follow up message as to why the calls
  • A team member send an Instagram message to say they aren’t feeling well instead of to the project team

Premium Etiquette Insights: Unlock Advanced Strategies

If a client or if you as an employer would like a faster response time as your beck and call then pay for it as part of an SLA agreement. Nobody’s time is anyone’s to be owned however there is always a price for the access.

Mastering Virtual Meetings: Principles of Remote Meeting Etiquette

Misconception: Digital meetings can be less structured and formal compared to in-person meetings, leading some to believe that casual behaviour and preparation are acceptable.

Whether you are a client or a member of my team, some of my ground rules apply exactly the same, productivity is key:

Check calendar invite details ahead of time – Accept or decline the meeting – Don’t just leave it hanging

Don’t just schedule a meeting without context/ agenda 

  • Respect each other’s time – It’s always good to have someone as a timekeeper 
  • If you are presenting, clear your desktop
  • Charge your tech
  • Camera on. Always. Period.
  • Check your internet connection
  • Avoid noisy environments where possible – If you need to join the meeting from a co-working space, go check it out ahead of time and scope out best places to sit and what the noise levels are like
  • 10 past rule – That’s more than enough time to be late or send apologies

Sometimes tech does fail, so be ready with a backup plan as time is money. Therefore it is good to have all “comms” platforms tried and tested at the ready, this does mean GMeet, Xoom, Microsoft Teams and failing that, Whatsapp Business. 

From an internal team perspective: 

  • Be on time
  • Ahead of the meeting nominate who will be taking notes
  • Make notes
  • Send follow-up notes and actions
  • Schedule the next follow-up call/ meeting

Digital Don'ts: Common Pitfalls in Remote Etiquette

  • Mute notifications
  • Mute yourself when you are not speaking especially if you have a noisy background
  • Even if you are on mute, people can see you mouthing words
  • This is my favourite … don’t browse around other tabs during the meeting unless you are discussing it in the meeting, it is so obvious and a lot of site have “white glow” which shows on peoples face and ESPECIALLY if you wear glasses
  • Phone in Hand as mentioned recently by Forbes 
  • Light glow – Give the meeting your full attention. Doom scrolling or browsing other tabs and emails … Guess what … everyone can see the flow on your face

Premium Etiquette Insights: Unlock Advanced Strategies

Many will still believe that an in-person meeting is more important and a requirement for them, therefore this is billable according to your terms of service, to note, a meeting is never 1 hour, they usually overrun if it’s been a while plus add in travel time and expenses. And if you are like most where remote working doesn’t mean only working from home, then try to upsell the opportunity for an onsite workshop in their city so it is worthwhile for you to travel.

Dressing for Success: Navigating Remote Work Attire

Misconception: Casual Wear is Always Acceptable: A common myth is that remote work means you can dress down all the time. While it’s true that you might not need formal business attire, maintaining a professional appearance, especially during video calls with clients or important team meetings, is crucial.

I am pretty relaxed about this in terms of internal vs external client meetings, it comes down to understanding the audience who is attending and the purpose of the meeting. For example, if you are attending a pitch meeting with a board of investors of a Fortune 500 company, they are likely to expect a “smart” dress code, even then, my take would always be more smart casual. If it is a slack hangout then of course, do what you want and wear your PJs (preferably with clothes on). At the end of the day, what does it matter what you are wearing as along as you are able to deliver on your tasks and job. Does high heeled shoes and a tight dress make me more professional? Realistically no, it makes me struggle to breathe and on edge. 

Digital Don'ts: Common Pitfalls in Remote Etiquette

  • Check your teeth
  • Brush your hair
  • Check the angle of your camera

Premium Etiquette Insights: Unlock Advanced Strategies

If you’re going for pitch theatre for a new business meeting or it is someone in your team’s birthday, go the extra mile and change up your background or get everyone to co-ordinate what they are wearing

Embracing Digital Decorum: The Path to Professional Excellence Online

All of us need to show up online the same as we would in person. It is so easy to hide behind our screens; whether mobile/ tablet/ laptop and send aggressive messages or just not care about how we are towards others. The photos of the side also show so many different scenarios where I had virtual interactions and all were appropriate for the audience. The AI-generated astronaut reference is there for humour as it really doesn’t matter where you are as long as you are connected to the activity at hand.

Digital etiquette, or netiquette, is more than a set of online manners; it’s the backbone of professional integrity and respect in the digital age. As remote work blurs traditional office boundaries, maintaining high standards of communication, punctuality, and presentation becomes crucial. Each virtual interaction is a reflection of your professional persona and impacts your business relationships and team dynamics. By embodying the principles of digital etiquette, we not only enhance our own work experience but also contribute to a culture of respect, efficiency, and collaboration in the virtual workplace. This commitment to digital decorum ensures that we bring our best selves to every online encounter, fostering environments where professionalism and personal respect thrive side by side