When I’m at home, staying connected with my work community is my #1 challenge. I found that tools like IM and video conferencing gave me something that email didn’t. Instant connections.

Once I got the hang of video conferencing, I noticed that it not only helped me stay productive, but it also fostered better working relationships. A face-to-face conversation is always better than an impersonal email.

I also discovered that there are unwritten rules of etiquette for video conferencing. Here are a few:

  • Be on time. When you just have to click to join, you should show up on time. And if another meeting is running over, send an email or IM to tell people you’ll be late.
  • Make sure your technology works. This is the digital age. We all know how to download an app and connect to Wi-Fi, so do a quick trial run first.
  • Don’t be shy. Turn on your camera. A little face time is a good thing, and it’s better than having a conversation with a disembodied voice.
  • Mute yourself when not speaking. We’ve all heard it. The paper rustling, the clickety-clack of the keyboard and the kids in the background. And we all love your dog, just not barking in our ear.
  • Wear work-appropriate clothing. You don’t need to dress up. Comfy clothes are fine, but at least look like you didn’t just roll out of bed.
  • Stay focused. There are a ton of distractions when you’re home. But turn off the TV, stop reading email and put your phone away. Concentrate on the call.
  • Be engaged. It’s easy to get lost in a virtual conference (see above). So, be an active participant and let everyone know you’re on the other end.