PRINCETON, N.J., March 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Event planner and Etiquette Coach Mary Harris’ mission is to help companies and their employees develop business etiquette skills to give them confidence in any professional situation. But what happens when offices are closed, the meetings become virtual and we have to gracefully manage the sudden shift to working from home?

«Just two weeks ago I was teaching a business etiquette class and the biggest virus-related discussion point then was the etiquette around how to greet someone without a traditional handshake and not appear awkward or rude,» says Harris. «One week later that discussion became almost irrelevant as we’ve been asked to self-isolate. Now everything from Zoom call manners to boundaries on business hours have come into play.»

Mary has put together a list of 8 Working from Home Manners you can apply today. 

1.  Get Dressed – If you’re on a Zoom or other virtual meeting get dressed. You don’t have to be formal but be dressed neatly from top to bottom.  Mary recalls, «I had a conversation recently with someone who put on a dress shirt and sweater but then was wearing only underwear on his bottom half.  When he had to get up to get a document from across the room it became awkward.»

2.  Consider Your Environment – For virtual meetings, remember to pick up any visible clutter, clear away the takeout boxes from last night and find a quiet well-lit space.  If you’re really uncomfortable having your space in the background some applications let you blur what’s behind you or consider some of West Elm’s Zoom backdrops in place of your own home.

3.  Make Conversation – At the beginning of a call or meeting remember to ask everyone how they are and anticipate a little more small talk than usual.  People have been isolated so many will need some more time to connect before getting down to business.  And remember to be sure you’re on mute if you don’t have to speak often. 

4.  Be Sensitive –  Be realistic but upbeat when speaking with colleagues and don’t focus on the negative side of our current normal.  Avoid making light of the virus, many have really been impacted by this and have been separated from loved ones, put under financial strain and are isolated. 

5.  Be Present – Make eye contact with the screen and smile.  Use open body language rather than slouching in your chair or crossing your arms which communicates disinterest.

6.  Don’t be a Distraction – Just like a regular in-office meeting, get everything you need so you’re not in and out of the frame.  A beverage is ok but avoid eating during meetings unless it’s a scheduled lunch meeting.

7.   Business Hours – Keep phone calls and texts to business hours.  Plenty of people sleep with their phones on their nightstands and don’t want to be startled awake in the middle of the night with impolitely timed chimes and alerts. 

8.  Email – Since we are relying on email more than ever, keep the subject line clear about what the conversation is about.  And as always, if there are more than five or six emails back and forth, or there is negative news to deliver, schedule a call to avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Overall, it’s important to remember that being kind, patient and respectful of others and their situation is a course of action that should always be applied and now more than ever. 

About Mary Harris

Mary Harris is an etiquette consultant and event planner based in Princeton, New Jersey.  Mary’s modern take on manners has made her a sought-after speaker on the value of using etiquette to build relationships and strengthen communication in both business and social settings.  Mary is committed to making etiquette, formerly perceived as outdated, relevant in today’s culture.

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SOURCE Mary Harris Etiquette & Events