The do's and don'ts of home office in the Czech Republic

Avoid wearing your pjs, sloppy time keeping, tech fails, and these other work-from-home mistakes.

Chloe’ Skye

Written by Chloe’ Skye Published on 24.02.2021 11:25:00 (updated on 24.02.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Business up top, pyjamas on bottom. Epic eye strain. Blurred lines between work and home. And that creepy feline Zoom filter you just can't remove: the COVID-19 pandemic has irreparably changed work as we know it. 

No one knows this better than Jonathan Appleton, the managing director of the Association of Business Service Leaders (ABSL) in the Czech Republic which represents the Czech business services sector and employs more than 120,000 people, 45% of them internationals.

“Working from home has changed the way people cooperate, interact, and share values,” he says. Most notably, the pandemic has made what he calls Digital Etiquette, or “DQ” increasingly important to professional success.

“DQ skill sets will be essential to future success," he tells us. "It's important to make sure to keep learning from others you admire in the digital space and be open to trying new things.” Here are his tips for braving the brave new world of online workplace etiquette.

DO re-assess your communication style

Whether you’re a manager, team player, or job seeker, being aware of your image and how you communicate, verbally, non-verbally, and in text as well as via email and social media, is critical. But the spatial remove of technology can make us less likely to stop and consider how we’re being perceived.

Appleton recommends assessing the impact of your communications by recording yourself, rereading some of your messages, and asking trusted colleagues and even loved ones for feedback on what you do well as well as what you can improve.

DO keep consistent working hours

Work-life balance concept via iStock / RLT_Images
Work-life balance concept via iStock / RLT_Images

When working from home (WFH as it’s fondly become known in Internet parlance), it's important to keep consistent working hours and habits to create boundaries between work and home.

Although you might be tempted to have a long breakfast, or take your time logging into your digital workspace, make sure you appear online at a consistent time each day both out of respect for your team's time and to maintain a solid daily routine for yourself. 

If your workplace is flexible, establish regular office hours (via shared Google calendar, for example), and be available during that time period.

DO stay on top of time management

“Spending whole days in front of the screen can be stressful for both the mind and the body,” Appleton says. Taking breaks between virtual meetings whenever possible, and reserving a spot for lunch in your calendar, just as if you were at the office, is an important practice. 

Actively focusing on your mental health and good time management has benefits for your team as well. Practicing self care and setting up boundaries between work and home helps you stay productive and focused during work hours and enjoy your free time after. It's equally important to be mindful of your colleague's schedules and not disrupt their personal time.

DON'T attend online meetings in your bathrobe

When working from home it can be all too easy to get used to creature comforts like pyjama bottoms and stretchy pants, but try not to be too casual. Once the novelty of being in her your pjs all day wears off, try to pull on professional clothing to trigger your brain into work mode. Lay them out the night before if it helps!

DON'T wing it when it comes to job interviews

When interviewing for a new job virtually, Appleton recommends you “rehearse with a friend or colleague to test how you come across and make sure you are comfortable with the technology.” 

Always register for the platform you need and learn its ins and outs in advance of an interview. In order to make the best impression, “you’ll want to come across as comfortable in your digital space.” 

DON'T wait til the last minute to check your tech

Virtual meetings are here to stay. According to the ABSL survey, 4 out of 5 employees in the Czech Republic want to work more than half their hours from home in the future (three or more days per week). That’s a 64% increase from pre-pandemic times.

In order to ensure a successful virtual meeting, ask yourself before each video call: Can I hear and see myself? Is the space behind me tidy or should I set a virtual background? Do I expect background noise? Can I reliably mute and unmute? Note that it's also considered rude, not to mention distracting to eat, type, disappear from the frame or check your phone in meetings. A good rule of thumb? Act as you would if attending a meeting in person.

DON'T feel obligated to shake hands

Young people in office wearing face masks via iStock / Halfpoint
Young people in office wearing face masks via iStock / Halfpoint

If you're still going into the office, keep up on the latest COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, and don’t come in sick. Many Czech workplaces have become more understanding of employee illness, as the uncertainty can put other employees and even the whole team at risk.

And though we’re all craving human contact, don’t jump at the opportunity to shake hands. For now, elbow bumps are the law of the land for everyone’s comfort and safety.

DO be honest and go easy on your colleagues and yourself

Although WFH employees report higher productivity and satisfaction, combining “home, family, school, and work under one packed roof” takes a toll.

While the pandemic may have "acted as an accelerator of change in the design and usage of office and workspace across the world and in the Czech Republic," Appleton says some etiquette will always be timeless, online or off.

“Always be honest. Even in these difficult times, be ready to share your challenges and how you approach them. No one has the right answers these days so [instead] we look to people’s attitudes, strength, and openness to [adversity] as key qualities,” he says.

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