Working from home — potentially for the first time ever — can be a large adjustment. But as we all know, the need to be professional still stands, even if the rules of what professionalism means are changing. Here are five mistakes remote employees make that aren't good for your relationship with your team except in cases on emergency — no matter how much our opinions on professionalism change.
While virtual meetings may feel less high stakes, it's just as important to be punctual to a Zoom call as it is to be punctual to an offline team meeting. Being consistently late to your virtual calls — especially at times when you're presumably on your computer — is not a great look for your professionalism. While the occasional missed Google Hangout link or technological difficulty is to be expected, we should all aim to be on time, most of the time.
When you're working from home instead of working beside your colleagues, it can be difficult for them to know when you've received their messages, if you understand what they're saying or if you're paying attention at all. Letting emails or messages sit in your inbox — read and understood, but unanswered — makes you look much less professional than responding affirmatively that you've received and will follow through. Following up communicates responsibility and ownership of your actions. Even if a message only requires a "thanks!" or "sounds good," it's always best to respond.
For many teams that are just transitioning to the remote lifestyle, there's a huge learning curve when it comes to documenting progress and trusting everyone to follow through. Being vague about your daily progress or how you're performing to deadlines can make your boss question how you're spending your days. Be frank about the amount of work you're getting done and anything that's impeding your progress rather than skating around the details for the sake of simplicity or saving yourself another email.
As teams make the adjustment to being remote, being inflexible or even judgmental of your colleagues and their behaviors or circumstances can make your boss question not only your professionalism, but your leadership ability. Refrain from commenting on others behavior and instead offer a helping hand if someone is struggling with the adjustment.
A healthy work-life balance requires boundaries. And clear boundaries are better not only for you, but for your team. Be communicative about when you're planning to be online and when you're planning to be offline and, if necessary, let people know how long a response may take when you're away from work. This communication demonstrates accountability and leadership — both in establishing a healthy balance and in being transparent with your team.