Working remotely? Follow these 4 rules for better conference call etiquette

The reaction to coronavirus is requiring numerous office teams to work and communicate remotely. Here are four tips for effective conference call etiquette.

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As businesses in the United States react to the threat of coronavirus, numerous team leaders and employees are turning to remote conferencing technology to practice social distancing while continuing normal business. But this solution can present communication challenges for managers and workers who are unfamiliar with relying on video conferencing from home.

Here are four video conferencing tips and tricks for how business teams and their employees can effectively transition meetings from the office to a remote environment.

1. Make meetings about the work, not the background. 

Set the stage for your team to feel comfortable by acknowledging that working from home may mean unintended interruptions from family, pets or other natural events at home. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Worrying too much about your appearance, what’s in your background or how others perceive you can add stress that gets in the way of the work.

You shouldn’t be afraid to look away from the camera if the conversation doesn’t apply to you or to interrupt a speaker if you need something repeated—open communication is always the goal.

2. Keep team morale and mental health in mind.

Fostering employee morale and preventing burnout are essential to developing a well-functioning remote team, especially given general lifestyle stress related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The flexible boundaries of a remote work environment can lead to a loss of productivity or mental health concerns if employees don’t communicate openly and manage their time.

There’s no reason to celebrate working long hours. Encourage yourself to communicate regularly with your managers regarding workload or other concerns.

Be sure to always say thank you. Communicating positivity is especially important in remote communications, so be sure to give the people who worked on a project an @ mention and thank them for their contributions, along with an emoji. 

3. Use tools efficiently and effectively.

Minimize the number of software tools you use to make sure your video conferencing tools are working efficiently.

Organize a panel of employees with experience in using remote conferencing software to help manage online meetings. Empower them to guide employees on a documented set of best practices.

If your team needs access to internal systems through a VPN, ensure that everyone has easy access and that instructions on usage are clear.

4. Document everything in a central locaton.

Some general meeting best practices are even more important when going virtual. Keep a central record of project information that’s accessible to everyone involved during remote team meetings.

Assign a note-taker to document everything in the meeting as it happens. That can add nuance if someone wants to revisit what was discussed.

Create a live, shareable and bulleted agenda for remote team meetings ahead of the meeting. That agenda can then be updated in real time as it progresses. Proper documentation of remote meetings allows for details to be recalled efficiently and for team members who could not attend the meeting to stay up to speed.

For those of us new to video conferencing and working remotely with others, the biggest takeaway is to make sure that you’re increasing communication. It compensates for the effects of social distance—and good conference call etiquette also helps reinforce your team morale.

If you can keep in constant, active communication, maintain positivity and focus on morale, working from home won’t seem so remote.

Learn more about Verizon's response to COVID-19.

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