Thursday, April 28, 2011

5 workplace rules to follow, even if you work from home

I saw these 5 office etiquette rules at CBS Moneywatch, and they got me thinking about what rules would be on my list if I was the one to wield supreme executive power at the office. Then I realized: Since I work from home now (except when I'm traveling), I guess I do have the power to issue my own etiquette laws, after all. And so here they are: 5 rules to remember—regardless of where your office is.

Don't assume that someone who works from home is free during the day. When you call someone who works from home during normal business hours, your first question should be "Is this a good time to talk?" Even though my office is now my kitchen table/desk in the bedroom/lap desk by the wood stove/coffee table in front of the news, I still have conference calls and business meetings, I still have deadlines, and I'm still working.

Overdressed is better than underdressed. Work in an office that embraces casual Friday—and casual Monday through Thursday as well? Polish your image a bit and you'll stand out in a crowd. As Susan points out over at The Working Closet, there's a huge difference between a sleeveless blouse and a tank top.

Build and reinforce the team. Whether you work in a cubicle farm or from your home, stay in touch with the rest of your team. It's easy to do that these days—another reason to love Facebook and Twitter! (Don't know the difference between a RT and a #hashtag? Here's a primer on how to make Twitter work for you.) Also: What not to say to your coworkers. Take it to heart.

Give credit where credit is due. It may be temping to just say "Thanks!" when your boss compliments you on a job well done, but if other people helped you, make sure they get the kudos they deserve. You don't have to play down your own accomplishments in order to do it, either; just change "Thanks!" to "Thanks! I really appreciated the effort X, Y, and Z put into it, too!" Few things are more demoralizing than watching a colleague take sole credit for a group effort.

Watch the way you email. I've written before about avoiding email overload, and those tips work well no matter where your office is. But when it comes to constant communication, here are a few other things to consider:
  • Spell check isn't foolproof, so take time to proof read as well. (to, too, and two, anyone? Or their and there? Exactly).
  • Forward as seldom as possible. If you must send a forward, make sure it's directly related to work, and make sure to remove everything except the original message and your response to it.
  • Don't send large attachments. Not unless someone requests that you do so, at any rate.
  • Reply as soon as you can. That doesn't mean you have to be a slave to your email, but you should try to acknowledge that you've received the message as soon as you can. (Obviously, you don't have to respond to spam, or to email blasts from strangers).
What office etiquette rules would you call for if you were in charge?

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