Proper communication is key to remote work success. As a remote worker, you should be able to articulate concerns and the important processes of your work despite the lack of physical communication. Conversely, as an employer, it’s your job to break down goals into actionable chunks and effectively delegate responsibilities through a reliable communication channel.
This makes good communication a necessary pillar of your whole business operations. And if you want strong communication foundations, it’s not enough to only invest in the right tools. You must be able to contribute to the establishment of an environment that’s conducive for communication. In this respect, learning proper call etiquette is key.
The nature of remote work demands you to become well-versed in observing proper teleconference etiquette. It may seem simple, but it does not always come intuitively to some people, which results in unprofessional glitches that can blow up the whole meeting and delay the progress of projects.
Keep these teleconference gaffes at bay by avoiding these common teleconference mistakes.
Doing Other Things during the Call
You may think you can manage listening to your boss rattle on about monthly productivity stats while responding to five urgent emails and simultaneously scrolling through latest buzz on Twitter. But science says otherwise.
In fact, multitasking has shown to inhibit productivity and even lower IQ. Stanford researchers say that people who multitask have a hard time paying attention and recalling information compared to those who don’t multitask.
Not to mention, it looks unprofessional and disrespectful. Save yourself the trouble, and aim to be physically and mentally present during teleconference meetings.
Not Using the Mute Button
There are plenty of horrifying—and sometimes hilarious—stories online about teleconference fails involving people who seemed to have forgotten about this golden rule of teleconferencing.
Your microphone can pick up the slightest noises in the room, so if you keep it on, you can broadcast annoying background audio that can distract people and even halt the discussion. So be familiar with the location of your mute button and use it sparingly. Be mindful of when to turn it off. If possible, only unmute when it’s your time to talk.
Taking Calls in Places with Loud Background Noises
If you happen to be in the airport or in Walmart when your boss buzzed you for an emergency meeting, notify them to give you some time to find a quiet place so you can’t cause major inconvenience during the call.
That’s not to say that loud background noises can’t happen at home. The sound of fighting toddlers or barking labradors is equally annoying. So if possible, find a quiet room in the house, and close the doors before you take the call.
Poor Audio Quality
There’s nothing more annoying than having to shout over to your microphone or say one sentence three times just to make sure the person on the other end of the line understands what you are saying. Poor audio quality is a real bugger and can cause a lot of frustration to everyone involved. It’s extremely unprofessional especially if you have a major part in the discussion.
Avoid this nightmare by making sure your microphone and audio transmission are working properly before the call. It makes sense to invest in a good teleconferencing system as well—more so if you’re handling a team yourself.
Using Hold Music
Have you ever tried calling someone and they told you to wait for a minute, then suddenly some pop music floods your eardrums to signify that you’ve been put on hold? Most of the time, you probably don’t care. Maybe you even tried singing along. But that’s an utter no-no when it comes to professional teleconference calls.
No matter how good you think your music taste is, there’s no valid excuse to broadcast it to everyone else when you’re talking about content marketing strategies. If possible, you shouldn’t put a conference call on hold. But if you ever have to, make sure there’s no hold music involved.
Not Testing Your System before the Call
Investing in a good teleconferencing system is one of the best investments you’ll make for your work-at-home job. Devices like the Cisco TelePresence SX20 ensures clear and crisp audio and video feeds and will surely impress your boss or teammates.
But if you don’t have access to this kind of equipment yet, you should make it your routine to inspect your teleconference systems before taking any calls. Having technical difficulties can delay meetings, and you don’t want to be that person everyone has to wait for all the time.
Having occasional sips of your coffee or tea is a forgivable offense as long as you’re not broadcasting loud sipping noises off your audio feed, making everyone remember how much they need a coffee break themselves. Chewing loudly on food, however, is something else.
The simplest mistakes can result in teleconference disasters that sometimes cost people their work. Knowing what to avoid helps you navigate through these common gaffes and contribute to a productive teleconference call.