Implementing and managing virtual meeting expectations has been a significant issue for employers who have adopted remote and hybrid work schedules. Many of these expectations depend largely on the type of business, industry, the level of interactions with clients and other professionals, as well as how often virtual meetings are conducted that require a certain level of presentation.
The need to set expectations largely comes from remote employees who have taken some leniency in how to balance style with comfort and office attire, as well as the quality and privacy of the location in which meetings are conducted. We’ve all seen and heard the stories about remote employees working in pajamas, some even going as far as to add a blazer to the “just-got-out-of-bed” look for an unexpected company meeting. The kids interrupting, dogs barking, and the doorbell ringing during camera-time are also notable occurrences, and have likely happened to most people who have worked from home.
While there is not an absolute answer for every situation, there are some best practices to consider when structuring virtual meeting expectations for your remote and hybrid work force who conduct or participate in virtual meetings. Some factors that will definitely play a role in your dress code expectations are:
- Your industry – Conservative and formal business attire is still expected in such sectors as financial services, banking, legal and consulting.
- Your company and your role – If you’re in a client facing role or are part of management, traditional business attire is most appropriate.
- Personal preference – Some employees are finding that they are more productive in their “work clothes” and prefer the fashion distinction between their professional and personal lives.
To help create some structure, expectations, and company standards, we suggest the following considerations for those employees who facilitate or participate in virtual meetings.
Clothing should always be neat, clean, professional and camera-ready. Consider this…If you wouldn’t wear it to the office for a meeting with the boss or a client, you shouldn’t wear it while working remotely either. In order to make the best impression, especially with clients and prospective clients, keep the attire professional.
One of the greatest employee benefits of working remotely is flexibility. There may be days when comfortable clothing is acceptable. If this is the case in your business or industry, consider addressing what types of comfortable clothing are acceptable. Or, communicate the opposite position of outlining which clothing types are not acceptable. For example, detail unacceptable clothing options such as workout wear and beach wear.
Be sure to also include acceptable background selections or office settings to your virtual meeting expectations. Most virtual meeting rooms offer a selection of meeting backgrounds. However, you can also create your own company-branded background. This is particularly useful to have for sales people because it provides another opportunity for your business to present its brand image. If remote employees are using their own office image as the backdrop, be sure to encourage such standards as neat, professional settings. Again, if it isn’t appropriate to have on the office desk, it shouldn’t be in the virtual meeting room either.
Virtual meetings can also be challenging for those in home settings where children, pets or other distractions are present. Remote employees should have a space to conduct meetings privately, especially if sensitive or confidential information is shared. Set expectations that home office spaces should be private areas designated for work. While most people understand the barking dog or sound of construction from a neighbor’s house, trying to minimize background noise as much as possible during meetings is easier when there is a dedicated work space.
Remote and hybrid work standards are continually evolving. We encourage you to make reviewing your company’s employee handbook part of your regular business practice to ensure it is up to date with current legal standards and business trends.
If your business is considering implementing a virtual meeting expectations policy, Contact Us for a complimentary 15 minute meeting with one of our HR experts. Our HR Service plans can help your business implement and manage your workplace and workforce.
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*Southland Data Processing, Inc. (“SDP”) is not a law firm. This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other SDP materials does not create an attorney-client relationship. SDP is not responsible for any inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process.