With the coronavirus pandemic overhauling the way so many companies work, employees around the world are discovering how essential communication is, and how easy it is to get wrong.

Suddenly, passing on the simplest memo or discussing the smallest problem has become a technical and scheduling challenge, something that has caused a lot of businesses to rethink how they communicate.

Add to that the social and psychological impact of losing the office environment and you realize how important good communication really is. So, seeing as remote working is likely to be here for the foreseeable future, here are some common communications and online meeting etiquette mistakes and how to avoid them.

No Webcam Etiquette

While video conferencing is certainly no new phenomenon, it’s really come into its own this year. More teams than ever are meeting partly or entirely from their own homes, which means thousands of workers are coming to terms with a new field of webcam etiquette.

Hironemo Borst, a business writer at Paper fellows and Boom essays, points out that

“One of the main drawbacks of remote communication is the lack of face-to-face contact. Seeing facial and physical cues in the person you’re talking to makes communicating easier, without them getting across your point can be difficult and even tiring.”

That’s why keeping your video camera on during team meetings is so important. Not only is face-to-face communication easier than vocal conversations, seeing colleagues’ faces can fulfill the need for socialization and human connection you might be missing by working from home.

Try not to be too self-conscious of your Zoom background and turn on your webcam!

Flooding The Chat

We should only send messages to people who are concerned with the message instead of sending to everyone
We should only send messages to people who are concerned with the message instead of sending to everyone

One of the biggest complaints about shared remote workspaces like Slack or Discord is that the main chatroom becomes flooded with messages between colleagues, making it hard to keep track of important discussions. The flood of messages might lead workers to turn off notifications, further contributing to the problem of missed information.

There are two main mistakes behind this: mass tagging, and personal chat. Mass tagging, more commonly known as @all on platforms like Slack, is like Reply All in emails: it quickly leads to an overwhelming amount of information, and it often doesn’t need to be that way.

Before you tag everyone in a message you’re about to send, think about whether it’s truly relevant to everyone. If not, try to tag a handful of individuals it does relate to. You’re much more likely to get a response that way.

Personal chat in the workplace is not bad per se, but in a digital work environment it can quickly infringe on work discussions. To avoid flooding key channels with office banter, create a separate chat channel where staff are free to talk about anything outside of work.

That way you can maintain the all-important social spirit without distracting from key work discussions.

Sharing Your Status

Since the early days of remote communication, platforms have included the functionality to mark whether you are ‘Busy’ or ‘Free’. The value of such a feature is clear: giving other people an indication of your current availability was an attempt to replicate the office dynamic, where someone could visibly see whether you were free or at work or on lunch.

Now, however, setting your status in such a way has fallen by the wayside, yet the value of the feature is more obvious than ever.

Aaron Materneson, a marketing blogger at Australian Help and State of writing, puts it simply by saying “Keep your colleagues updated on what you’re up to. For teams trying to work together, you dropping off the map for hours on end makes it hard to develop projects together.

Solve that problem by dropping a message telling them you’re going to lunch, or that you’re working on a particular project for the next hour. It’s more status sharing than you might be used to from the office, but it will help communication run more smoothly.”

Learn And Grow

However you might see remote working solutions, the reality is that it’s not going away any time soon. For that reason, it’s important to keep learning and growing in how you communicate with your team remotely. Don’t be afraid to try new things or break with old habits, and above all, talk about it!


Guest Post by Kristin Herman

Kristin is a tech enthusiast and a project manager at Academized. She writes articles on workplace communication for online magazines and blogs such as Essay Roo and UK Writings.