I've been working fully remotely for a little over four years now at two very different companies, both with very strong remote cultures. As a Community Manager, I interact with a plethora of remote employees on a day-to-day basis, many of whom come to me with their frustrations about their coworkers, or just remote work in general.
Hearing their frustrations, I've discovered that I agree with absolutely everything that they've said… the funny thing is, when I first started working remotely, these weren't the kinds of things that I was worried about.
Back then, I was always concerned with how I looked on camera, and whether my home-office looked more like a home or an office. I've come to realize that people couldn't care less about these things, but there are other remote-work faux pas that legitimately drive people crazy.
So for those of you new to remote work or hoping to make the switch soon (or for any remote work veterans who just want their frustrations validated), here's a short list of the quickest ways to tick off your remote coworkers, and all the things you're worrying about in vain (because no one actually cares)!
You're driving people crazy when…
- You're the only one not muted on a call. Especially when the speaker has asked everyone to mute multiple times. Be courteous - if you're not the one talking stay muted!
- You're always having technical difficulties. If we can't hear you 4 out of 5 calls a week because your headset is broken, it's probably time to get a new headset.
- You're late! Just because it's online doesn't mean the meeting is less important.
- You blow off meetings. Worse than being late is not showing up at all. If you knew someone was waiting for you in person, would you cancel a meeting 2 minutes beforehand? Probably not. (That said, canceling before the meeting is always preferable to just not showing up.) People need to plan their days - be respectful of their time.
- You're not considerate of others' timezones. If you're working for a fully remote company, odds are you'll be working with people in different timezones. Don't ping them with an urgent request at 3AM their time just because it's 3PM where you are. Send the message, but let them know the response can wait. (Pro Tip: You can click someone's Slack profile to check what timezone they're in!)
- You don't check your colleagues' calendars before scheduling meetings. Especially when working remotely, Google calendars are the equivalent of gold. There's nothing more annoying than an email thread of three people going back and forth saying "this time doesn't work for me, I have a meeting" - it's all right there!
No one cares when…
- You're wearing PJ's. Unless you're wearing full-on footed pajamas with little unicorns, I can guarantee we all just think you're in a nice silk shirt (maybe...)
- Your child or pet hops on camera. Babies and pets are the way to everyone's heart and spice up any boring conference call!
- You're not wearing makeup. Again, we probably have no idea. The screen is so tiny that it's all blurry anyway.
- Your background isn't the perfect office scene. It's called working from home for a reason! No one expects your "office space" to be perfect, plus it gives people a sense of who you are (ie. a knitter who needs another yarn cabinet).
- You're eating your breakfast or lunch. Just don't chew loudly into the microphone (again, mute is your best friend!)
- You shower at midday or do your laundry. These are the perks that make remote work so great! As long as you don't disappear for the whole day or miss meetings (see above), and you're getting your work done, no one minds how you structure your day!
- You silence your notifications. If you're a writer or on sales calls all day, the last thing you need is the sound of an active Slack group pinging in your ear. Just because you're remote, doesn't mean you have to be available all the time! We get it - you have work to do!
So, fellow remote workers, what did we miss? Tweet your remote-work pet peeves to @powertofly.