To say our work culture has changed is to simplify a complicated issue. In the last year and a half, the majority of organizations have transitioned from 100% in-person schedules…

to layoffs and furloughs…

to fully remote work environments…

to hybrid models…

to somewhere in between.

Leaders are trying to balance what that perfect combination looks like for their teams and who can sufficiently work independently, vs who requires a more collaborative in-person model.

Whether you’re still smoothing out your new work dynamic or are preparing to work remotely for the long haul, here are some communication etiquette reminders to make the transition as smooth and productive as possible.

Something we did not expect to see however is a shift in office etiquette. Each organization has their own look and feel when it comes to conduct and appearance. Some companies require business professional attire, some require business casual. But, and correct me if I’m wrong, I am confident every company requires a shirt and pants.

As we have all become more acquainted with the remote work atmosphere, we have noticed a few quirks in how some individuals conduct themselves on meetings. For example, some individuals have:

  1. left their screen on throughout the day
  2. opened a beer during a meeting
  3. stood up to grab something from another room without pants on
  4. took a phone call without excusing themselves or muting their computer
  5. came to a meeting shirtless

While the remote work environment etiquette may not be as stringent as the in-person environment, I’m fairly certain shirts are rather imperative. There are some rules that help keep virtual meetings running smoothly and keep a productive, professional, and friendly interaction with the person on the other end.

We polled the PSI team to see what they felt were the most imperative points to consider when joining a virtual meeting. Here is what they had to say:

  1. Take control of your own noise

Audio is one of the most important factors you should consider when participating in a virtual meeting. Many people assume that they can just open up their laptop and start a meeting. However, if you want to follow the unwritten ground rules for virtual meetings, you need to consider what other people can — and can’t — hear. So, here are some items and habits you can use to take control of your own noise:

  • Speak clearly, but don’t yell. Don’t be afraid to ask if people can hear you well. You should also try to mute your microphone whenever you’re not speaking. This prevents any unexpected background noise from causing a distraction.
  • Account for hearing disabilities. If you have participants who are hard of hearing, you can also use non-verbal signals to communicate simple answers. For example, you can nod, give a thumbs up, and use similar motions to get your point across while accounting for those with hearing difficulties.
  • Sit in a quiet area. You must ensure that you have a quiet area in which to conduct or participate in a virtual meeting. This is one of many virtual meeting norms that people — especially in a business environment — have come to expect.
  1. Look and dress the part

When it comes to your appearance during a virtual meeting, there are three important factors to consider:

Attire

In most cases, it’s expected that you can dress a little more casually in online meetings than you would in a face-to-face meeting. That said, it’s always better to overdress than underdress.

Eye Contact

Take note of how you interact with the camera. In order to make “eye contact,” you’ll need to look directly into the webcam. Definitely don’t have your eyes on your phone all the time. Big no-no and very disrespectful.

Tidiness

Make sure that you look tidy in your appearance. If possible, try to use natural lighting and an angle that keeps your entire face in full view.

  1. Give everyone an opportunity to speak

If you have a meeting in which one person gives a presentation to a group, you may not need to worry about this rule as much. However, if your virtual meeting is more of a conversation between colleagues, you need to ensure that everyone gets the chance to ask and answer questions.

49% of employees admitted that they do other unrelated work or daydream during meetings.

It is the responsibility of the meeting host to make sure that nobody monopolizes the meeting or takes valuable time away from others.

  1. Keep an eye on the clock

Well-communicated teams tend to be busier with meetings in a virtual environment than in an in-person environment due to the need to regularly communicate with team members. Adhere to time allotments for meetings to respect everybody’s time and allow your team the opportunity to complete their work outside of meetings.