(Originally published on my SQL Server blog.)
Working from home, consulting with companies all over the world, has changed how I interact with customers. The last time I was physically on site was seven months ago.
We deal almost exclusively with each other via conference call and video using Skype, LogMeIn or GoToMeeting, juggling webcams, headphones, microphones, email, text messages, phone calls, instant messaging, and so on and so forth …
Scott Hanselman wrote on Twitter recently about spending more than 20 minutes of a one-hour meeting getting microphones working for all meeting attendees, and this is in 2016!
22 min into a 60 min meeting. We have yet to get all the microphones and cameras working for everyone. In other words, it’s Wednesday.
— Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) January 27, 2016
Being professional means treating your customers and colleagues with the respect you think you deserve in return.
Put another way, if you treat other people with contempt, you can’t expect to be taken seriously.
Missing meetings, not having your equipment set up correctly, not wearing camera-friendly clothing (or any clothing at all!), having an inappropriate backdrop, or having an inappropriate desktop background if you’re sharing your screen, all amount to contempt.
Take the time to set up your work space correctly by keeping the webcam-visible area behind you friendly to anyone watching you on video.
Learn how to use your webcam or microphone or headphones correctly. If you have to share your computer screen, make sure you have turned off notifications. Even better, try to keep to one virtual desktop away from email, web browsers and social media.
Do you use a Mac? Did you know that there’s a way for you to set up your microphone to send clear and crisp audio through Skype or other tools? It’s called Loopback.
All that money you’re saving on gas? Buy a decent condenser microphone, over-ear headphones, and a high-definition webcam. Don’t rely on your laptop’s built-in speakers. You know what microphone feedback sounds like, and wearing headphones is a great way to avoid it.
Don’t pick your nose. Don’t get too close to the camera. Someone might have you on a giant television screen with lots of people in the room. Because you’re not physically in the room, perception is everything. Even I make some of these mistakes, which means I’m also guilty of behaving in an unprofessional manner.
This post is not only to let you know how to behave, but to remind me how I should behave. We’re in this together.