Navigating the new rules of ‘tele-business’

Corridor organizations and employees are learning to adapt to the new work of remote work and virtual meetings, from dress codes to virtual happy hours. IMAGE ZOOM


By Ashley Moore

A new culture of remote work is taking shape as Corridor employees increasingly work from home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and employees are doing their best to adapt, from ditching the all-day PJs to digital happy hours.

Patti Seda, a career coach and talent consultant at Seda Consulting, advises employees to make their workspace as much like a dedicated work environment as possible and get into a routine.

“If every day you wake up and you’re navigating the new and different, it’s mentally exhausting,” she said. “[A routine] is easier on your brain, and I think that’s the science piece that people miss.”

Ms. Seda, who operates the firm out of her home, says an important part of her routine is getting dressed up. She wears professional attire regardless of where she is working and what meetings are taking place, often to the surprise of her associates.

“I have to do this to feel my best, but everybody has to do what’s best for them,” she said.

Samantha Rogers, senior human resources manager at Skywalk Group, has found expectations for virtual conference attire really depends on the culture and client expectations. Some organizations have relaxed their dress code for remote work, but most discourage pajamas. Others are making a conscious decision to have more fun with the circumstances, such as those that are “having competitions on who can wear the funniest hat during calls,” Ms. Rogers noted.

For employees who have been asked to maintain a professional dress code but would rather not dress up, she suggests keeping a jacket or blazer nearby for video calls.

Email is also becoming a critical touchpoint as people practice social distancing. Ms. Rogers recommends employees update their signatures to include the most accurate calling information and hours if they are working remotely.

One of the challenges using email is that it can be difficult to show emotion. Ms. Rogers advises to avoid using ALL CAPS and too many exclamation points. That’s also one of the reasons why Ms. Seda feels it’s important to maintain visual, or at least verbal, contact with colleagues while working remotely.

“You can have all the right intentions in an email or text, but without that tone and seeing how the other person is responding, it can get ugly quickly,” Ms. Seda said.

In addition to virtual meetings, some companies are scheduling virtual happy hours, lunches and morning coffee to meet people where they are, figuratively.

As of last March 17, business consulting and tax giant RSM US LLP mandated employees work from home until further notice. Marketing Development Senior Associate Erika Brighi said the silver lining has been getting to see people she would normally only talk to on phone.

“The marketing team in our region is going to have a virtual lunch … This is something we have never done before, and I am hoping we make it a regular practice, even when we go back to a normal routine.”

Looking for more advice for adapting to the new world of “tele-business?” Join the CBJ and CEC next Tuesday, March 31 at noon for a webinar on tele-business best practices and new tools, part of the CBJ’s new Corridor Rising 2.0 business support series. Find more information and register for this free webinar here.