10 Most Important Rules for Telecommuting: Use These Methods to Dominate the New Norm

Interesting thing about me: I’ve spent my whole working life in a remote capacity.

Due to the fact that my supervisor and coworkers were consistently located in different locations and time zones, I never had a designated physical workspace to attend each day. The majority of my work was accomplished remotely from my home and I only had to visit the IBM headquarters in San Francisco twice weekly. During my employment at Works, I never had the opportunity to be in close vicinity to the headquarters.

Due to the recent circumstances, many organisations are now requiring their employees to work from home. This will be a significant shift from the usual work dynamic. Fortunately, remote work does not require any specialised knowledge and, if managed appropriately, may lead to increased productivity for both individuals and the organisation as a whole.

Words to live by and habits to put into place if you’re working from home (WFH).

  1. Sleepwear Is Forbidden.

    Starting your day off in the right way is essential for achieving success in the workplace, no matter your location. Even when you are working from home, it is important to take the time to get ready for the day ahead. Without proper preparation, your day can quickly slip by and you may find yourself still in your pyjamas at the end of the working day. It is important to carve out some time each morning to both mentally and physically prepare yourself for the tasks ahead.

    Even though you are working remotely, it is still important to present yourself in a professional manner. Dressing for the job you aspire to have, instead of the one you have now, will help you to project an air of confidence and professionalism when working from home. Taking the time to ensure that you look your best can have a positive effect on your mental state and performance, and will help to instill a sense of pride in your work.

    It is inadvisable to engage in a video chat while wearing pyjamas, as it reflects poorly on one’s professionalism and respect for the other participants. It is a common courtesy to present oneself adequately for any video chat, and failure to do so could be seen as evidence of a lack of consideration for the other participants. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of one’s clothing choices prior to engaging in any video chat.
  2. One Must Take Responsibility For One’s Own Actions

    This should have been the first priority.

    It is widely acknowledged that trust and responsibility are essential components of successful remote work. Without these, any amount of knowledge, expertise, and resources will not be able to make up for their absence. This is especially true for managers, who often worry about the lack of face-to-face interaction leading to remote staff not performing to their full potential. Unfortunately, there are some individuals who may try to take advantage of a work-from-home arrangement, and it is imperative that we ensure we do not become one of those people. To prevent any further issues and to maintain a positive working atmosphere, it is essential that all individuals abide by their remote working agreements and do not become the ‘slacker’ who distracts and decreases morale among the team.

    As a remote worker, it is essential to demonstrate professionalism and a strong work ethic in order to be successful. This includes being courteous and meeting deadlines, as well as utilising the correct communication channels. It is also important to provide meaningful contributions to team efforts. To be successful, it is necessary for an employer to grant remote workers a level of trust and responsibility.

    Quick and easy methods of taking responsibility for one’s actions:
    • Respond quickly to emails, Slack messages, meeting requests, and phone calls from your team. Use time blocking and to-do lists to organise your day.
    • Send a stand-up/stand-down to your supervisor.
    • Get your job done wherever you are (home office, coffee shops, co-working spaces).
    • If you are stuck on a task, it is advisable to seek assistance in a public forum, where others may also be stuck.
    • Stop making excuses and taking credit for other people’s efforts.
    • Send these daily reports by Slack, email, or whatever you choose.

      Related Article: Here Are 7 Strategies for Supervisors to Improve the Efficiency of Their Remote Employees
  3. Media Using Video Is Required

    Video calls are a game-changer for distributed teams, but they will be a radical departure for businesses accustomed to phone conversations.

    By 2022, video calls will have become uncomplicated and much more akin to having an in-person conversation. It will be possible to witness how others truly react, verify that they are paying attention without being diverted, and build genuine relationships with people.

    A recent report from Gong.io found that turning on your camera during a meeting can result in a 41% increase in the chances of making a sale. This is because video calls can bring a new perspective to conversations, allowing the sound of your voice to be complemented by the sight of your face. In addition to sales calls, the use of video calls can also improve the quality of all your meetings.

    Maintaining Eye Contact:

    Focus your attention on the green circle/camera at the top of your screen; this is the equivalent of making direct eye contact in a digital setting.

    The Setting and the Lights:

    Keeping the backdrop basic is essential. To avoid becoming a silhouette, make sure there is light directly in front of you.
    A good light for taking selfies is essential.

    Place the camera at around eye level. A box or stack of books might provide the necessary height when you need it.

    Stand for laptops that may be adjusted to fit different sizes


    Don’t forget to put yourself on mute while you’re not interacting with the group.

    Get yourself a good pair of headphones and a decent microphone.
    We adore Krisp.ai, too. It’s a program that runs on your laptop and helps keep phone conversations clear by filtering out unwanted sounds.

    If you are looking for an appropriate venue for a meeting, it is recommended that you choose a location with a reliable internet connection and minimal distractions. Working from home or at another designated location can be beneficial in order to ensure an uninterrupted meeting. It is advisable to avoid public places such as cafés, as they may not provide an ideal environment for a professional discussion.
  4. One Must Have a Functional Office

    It is essential to emphasise the significance of having a routine when working remotely, which is analogous to getting dressed to go into the office each day. This means that it is important to make an effort to get out of pyjamas when beginning a workday, as this will result in increased productivity, motivation, and focus.

    Creating an ergonomically-friendly and productive workspace should be a key goal when it comes to creating an effective work environment. For this example, let us focus on creating an efficient home office, though the same principles could easily be applied to shared workspaces.

    The first rule is to find a quiet place to work where you can lock the door, have good lighting, and be undisturbed.

    Unfortunately, I have never had the privilege of having a personal office. When I was in San Francisco, I set up a desk in my room and hung a curtain behind it to prevent anyone from looking in and seeing me work. Currently, in Charlotte, North Carolina, I have a chair and the overhang of my kitchen counter that I use as a makeshift workstation. To ensure that I have a suitable environment to work in, I have arranged the area so that I have a white wall behind me and ample lighting.

    The second rule: what do you need to be effective?

    It is important to ensure that you have all of the necessary tools and resources required to complete your work from home. Communicating with your employer is essential in order to identify what you may need. While a laptop may be sufficient for some, others may require additional equipment such as multiple monitors, specialised drawing instruments, or professional-grade microphones. It is important to have these elements in order to ensure that you can complete your work efficiently and effectively.

    Third Principle: Make Sure You Have a Good Connection.

    Day after day, I am spending my time in the office on video calls. It is no exaggeration to say that I had to upgrade to the highest speed internet plan available from my internet service provider, in order to ensure that my video calls are not disrupted by a weak or dropped connection.

    Make your workspace comfortable and productive. It’s OK if it takes a few days to adjust.
  5. One Must Make a Commitment to Talking.

    It is important to consider that there can be a multitude of interpretations when it comes to communication within a team. Communication can be defined as the exchange of information between team members, which can be done through spoken, written, and nonverbal means. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that all parties involved in the communication process are aware of the same interpretations.

    The four most essential tools for effective remote team communication are currently in place at the majority of organisations.

    Telegram/Slack/Microsoft Teams Instant Messaging
    Gmail/Outlook Email
    Inbox/Outlook Calendar
    The Use of a Video Service (like Google Hangouts or Zoom)

    As a team, it is important to create a set of rules and procedures for how you will be communicating with one another. This will ensure that all employees are aware of the protocols that should be followed. By having an organised and transparent communication system, it will be easier to increase productivity while having a clear record of the decision-making process. This will enable the team to have clear guidelines to refer to in the future.

    Some suggestions I have are as follows:
    In order to facilitate efficient communication, team and departmental chats should be conducted via instant messaging (IM) platforms such as Slack. Rather than sending out individual direct messages, it is recommended to use existing channels to communicate with the whole group.
    Important and legally binding business decisions, public statements, and other documents are best sent by email.
    If you expect that it will take more than five text messages to communicate your message, it is likely more effective to use a phone call. Additionally, it is important to ensure that all key stakeholders who need to be informed of your topic are aware of the outcome of your meeting.
    – You and your team should rely on your calendar as the ultimate truth (we’ll go into more detail about this in a little).
    Sending a “Seen” emoji to indicate that you’ve read a message and establishing a response time will go a long way.
    You are doing it well if you feel like you are talking too much.

    Related Article: 4 Ways to Make Remote Team Communication Easier
  6. Building Rapport at Work Is One of Your Duties.

    As a remote worker, I understand the importance of periodic face-to-face meetings for the most successful virtual teams. However, I do not look forward to hearing the phrase “let’s have a coffee when you’re in town”. Nevertheless, in an effort to bridge the physical gap between colleagues, I propose that we have a cup of coffee together right now.

    Video conferencing is an excellent way of creating and strengthening relationships in the workplace. Developing a strong sense of camaraderie with your peers can have a significant impact on your overall happiness and satisfaction with your job. Moreover, it is important to have trustworthy colleagues with whom you can share your concerns and receive meaningful advice.

    Creating a strong environment for both individual and collective communication is of paramount importance. To ensure a positive work atmosphere and to maximise productivity, it is essential that both managers and employees prioritise activities which promote mutual trust and collaboration. When employees are content and satisfied with their job, they are more likely to be productive and efficient.

    Some strategies to consider:
    A connection is something that must be built from the very first day. Say welcome to new hires on Slack and make an effort to get to know them.
    Get to know your coworkers better with the help of Donut, a Slack tool that introduces you to them at random.
    Get together with three or four coworkers once a month to share updates on work and personal life over coffee, kombucha, or wine.
    Organising an office celebration can be a great way to foster team bonding and increase morale. Possible activities to consider include: • Trivia – This can be a fun way to learn more about your co-workers, as well as test each other’s knowledge! • “Cribs” (in the MTV sense) – Give your colleagues a virtual tour of your workspace and have them guess what type of person you are based on what they can see. • “Teach Something” – This can be a great way to share your knowledge and expertise with your team. Consider offering tutorials on how to cook, exercise, or mix drinks. • “Meet the Pet(s)” – If your team members have pets, consider scheduling a virtual meet and greet to get to know them better. • “Talent Show” – Have everyone show off their hidden talents! • “Dance-Off” – Get the team moving and grooving in a friendly competition. By incorporating a variety of activities into your office celebration, you can ensure that everyone has a chance to participate and have fun.
  7. Meetings that Include Everyone Are Should Be Planned.

    When providing counsel on managing a remote team, I frequently emphasise that “effective remote management is, in reality, simply effective business management”. Here at Works, we have held several conversations on how we can ensure that everyone is given a voice. To stimulate diverse points of view and avoid tunnel vision, it is essential to guarantee that all relevant individuals are welcome to be part of the meeting.

    In order to ensure that meetings are productive, it is essential that remote workers remain actively engaged. This means actively listening to discussions, contributing ideas, and providing opportunities for others to speak. It is important to avoid the temptation of remaining passive and simply observing without offering contributions.

    Some tips for fostering an open dialogue are as follows.
    Make sure everyone is on the same page by disseminating a meeting schedule and any necessary readings or other resources in advance.
    Set the agenda for the meeting by deciding who needs to be there, why, and what should come out of it.
    Provide a brief introduction of everyone participating in the call and the reason(s) they were invited.
    By and large, if one person is participating remotely by video, then everyone should be participating via video in order to maintain parity.
    It is essential to ensure that all topics of discussion are being fairly distributed amongst all members of the team. To ensure that everyone is involved in the conversation, ask questions of those team members who may be quieter and have valuable insight to offer.
    Post a list of names in the conversation if there is a talking order to avoid people talking over one other.
    Apply the magic of “YES, and…” Take advantage of people’s thoughts and learn to read between the lines of their words.
    Maintain a steady stream of “Are there any questions?” inquiries. or “Did I make myself clear; do you have any questions?”
    Don’t cut people off mid-sentence, and let them talk without interruptions.
  8. In the calendar world, you will be a major player.

    Taking into account that Works is now a fully virtual organisation, and that I am in the process of creating the Ten Commandments for Distributed Work, I can confidently state that Google Calendar is an invaluable resource for our team.

    Explaining why your calendar is so effective…
    Your calendar captures your day as it unfolds in real time.

    We highly value timely and accurate calendar and Slack status updates from our team members. For any planned absences of more than 30 minutes, we ask that team members notify their managers and update their Slack statuses so that the team can be informed of their response times and be mindful when scheduling subsequent meetings around other commitments, childcare, and commutes.

    Our most productive employees prefer to use time blocking to plan their days. By allocating specific periods of time to each task, they are able to maximise their efficiency and productivity. This allows us to plan our calls with them in advance and seek permission if needed.

    When responding to a meeting invitation, it is important to provide an affirmative or negative response promptly. If you are unable to attend the meeting and require to reschedule, kindly contact the invitees as soon as you can to make the necessary arrangements.

    One of the best meeting-planning tools is your calendar.

    It is highly recommended that all meetings have a clearly defined objective, as well as an agenda, important papers, preparation questions, and a summary of the meeting’s action items. Additionally, it is essential that the meeting has a definitive conclusion. Taking these measures will ensure that all meetings are conducted efficiently and effectively.

    Beginning on time is essential for successful meetings and it is important that attendees understand how to access the meeting, either by video or telephone. The Zoom Chrome Extension makes it simple to input meeting details, ensuring that participants can join the meeting with ease.

    The meeting organiser should ensure that all attendees receive a pre-meeting letter prior to the gathering, as well as a post-meeting message to all participants and any other interested parties. Additionally, the meeting summary should include a link to any available meeting notes and recordings, should they be applicable.

    In other words, other individuals will be able to access and view events on your calendar. If you create comprehensive agendas and provide pertinent background information with your calendar invitations, you will have a documented account of past meetings and the decisions that were made.

    With so many time zones to account for, a team’s calendar is an invaluable resource.

    The importance of adhering to a consistent work schedule cannot be overstated. Utilising a calendar can help you to easily communicate your working hours to your colleagues, and inform them when you will be arriving and departing each day. This can help to prevent any inconvenience for coworkers who may attempt to schedule a meeting at a time when you will not be in the office.
    • Follow this link to access your Google Calendar: (Calendar > Settings > General > Working Hours)
    • Utilising both local and global clocks can make managing your calendar much more efficient. Your calendar will always display the time in the time zone that you select, and you can specify up to two different time zones. Moreover, Google Calendar allows you to include four additional time zones on its globe clock, meaning that you can simply click on a time of day and have it automatically adjusted to the appropriate time zone.
    • Follow this link to access your Google Calendar: (Calendar > Settings > General > Time Zone and World Clock)
  9. You Must Leave the House Immediately

    Strive for daily outside time. (and particularly so when you need not social-distance!)

    Working from home can be incredibly productive, but it is important to ensure that you are maintaining a healthy work-life balance. If you find yourself skipping meals, working beyond 7 p.m., or not leaving the house for days or even weeks at a time, it is time to take a step back and make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Getting enough sleep and exercise is essential for both your physical and mental health, so be sure to incorporate those activities into your daily routine.

    Organise phone-based walking meetups.
    Planning your daily commute can be a great opportunity to catch up on current events, listen to podcasts, or even walk your dog. I usually spend 30 minutes walking around my neighbourhood with my dog while simultaneously reading The New York Times, The Daily, and Robinhood Snacks. This allows me to stay up-to-date with the latest news and information while also enjoying some fresh air and exercise.
    – Go to local networking events, either virtually or in person (after things have returned to “normal”).
    Join a group that goes on bike rides or runs (again, when it is allowed again).
    Stick to your shift schedule and clock out when the time comes!
    It is possible to boost productivity by changing up the environment at different times of the day. As an example, I typically divide my day into thirds and use each third in a different setting. This allows me to stay focused and motivated, enabling me to make the most of my time.
    • A home office is where I spend my mornings.
    • Cafe breaktime (when it will be allowed).
    • Afternoon: Either the apartment lobby or my sofa.

      Discover a cadence that suits you. It’s quite normal if you need some time to readjust.
  10. The Value of Team Culture Must Be Emphasised

    Ultimately, we are all human and have lives outside of our careers. Most people want to work in an environment that is enjoyable and allows them to engage with stimulating people. Having a job that also encompasses these aspects is something that many of us strive for.

    Every member of the staff, from executives to entry-level, is responsible for creating a work environment where employees can efficiently work together to achieve common objectives and abide by the organisation’s fundamental principles. When working remotely, there are plenty of chances to have fun, build team spirit, and celebrate successes. The more comfortable individuals feel being able to express their personality, the more unified the company’s culture will be. Cultures that are based on mutual respect and the fair distribution of responsibility are typically more enduring.

    I’d want to share some of the best examples of remote work cultures with you.

    GitHub currently employs approximately 2,000 remote workers, necessitating the formation of smaller groups based on common interests. To facilitate this, the company has established Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for various purposes, such as:
    • Coaching Sessions for Women Joining the Workforce
    • Managers
    • LGBTQ
    • Disabilities
    • Minority Workers
    • Staff Members Sharing a Workspace (for Eating Together and Team Meetings)

Numerous and invaluable resources may be found among one’s peers.

BleacherReport hosted an exciting challenge for its employees – the ‘Greatest Hot Sauce Gathering Ever’. Participants were sent a package containing five different types of spicy sauces and invited to a Zoom session to sample them. The goal was to see who could withstand the heat of all five sauces. It was a thrilling experience that tested the limits of courage and spice tolerance.

Additional straightforward concepts:

Organisations should establish a regular, company-wide remote happy hour where employees can come together to celebrate their accomplishments throughout the week, exchange ideas on the practices and procedures of other teams, and foster a spirit of camaraderie by engaging in activities such as wearing college apparel, playing bingo, competing in a trivia challenge about coworkers, participating in a game of Family Feud, giving virtual tours of their homes, showcasing their talents, and having a dance-off.

Establish a weekly email thread or public channel with the aim of exchanging content with fun and entertaining themes (#ThrowbackThursday photographs, weekend plans expressed by emojis, amusing facts, and so on). This will encourage team members to share lighthearted content with one another and create a more pleasant work atmosphere.

Best practices for working remotely are also good for business.

It is time to move beyond conversation and into action regarding these rules. It can be easy to take coworkers for granted when they are present in the workplace on a daily basis, but it is important to remember that the same principles of success apply to remote teams as any other. Following these guidelines can lead to an increase in productivity, better team collaboration, and a more positive company culture. Adhering to these principles will put your remote team on the path to achieving excellence. Have a great day, and don’t forget to dress for success!

Teams of engineers all across the globe are used to working remotely for the first time. For more information about how to make the shift to all-remote teams, check out Best Practices for Remote Work in a Nutshell.

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