We’re Answering the Remote Work Questions You’re Afraid to Ask

After working from home for almost a year, many of us are comfortable in our routines and habits. However, comfort doesn’t always equate to confidence. After all, we’ve been working remotely for just long enough that it may feel awkward to ask your coworkers what is “appropriate” or advised in a certain situation. It may feel similar to asking someone’s name after your sixth encounter with them.

We understand. So whether you’ve been in a meeting where you wondered if you were dressed appropriately, if your environment was suitable or if you’ve questioned whether your work schedule could use some finessing, we’re here to answer many of the pressing remote work and video conferencing questions you've been reluctant to ask:

What is “remote work” appropriate attire?

With the surge of remote work and tools such as GoTo powering your face-to-face interactions, businesses have had to start rethinking their dress code policies in order to keep up with the times.

Business or formal dress:

For those with a business casual or formal dress code, the answer is fairly simple seeing as your work wardrobe has stayed consistent (at least above the belt) with what you were accustomed to wearing in the office. Maybe on a day when you have no video meetings scheduled you can opt for a Van Halen tee and bedhead, but you may want to keep a collared shirt and a comb close by for any unexpected calls.

No dress code:

For those who work under a “no-dress-code" policy, the simplest answer is stick with what you would have worn into the office — at least on top. The beauty of working remote is that, unless you are a pacer and enjoy walking about the room while on a video call, it really doesn’t matter what you decide to wear below your camera’s field of vision. So take advantage of the opportunity and opt for some comfy leggings or sweats some days! However, be forewarned that if you do decide to wear something that you would not want to be seen in by your clients, coworkers or partners, you better triple-check that you’ve turned off your camera before getting up to answer the door or grab a cup of coffee. You don’t want to end up as a viral sensation.

Does it matter that my dog barks in the background or is that unprofessional?

We’re going to be perfectly honest with you. Unless your dog decides to howl incessantly while you’re on a call, the majority of people do not mind hearing your dog or children (the same incessant howling applies to them) in the background of your calls. In fact, many people find it refreshing and very personable to be able to have a window into your real life outside the walls of the office. It may even provide a nice icebreaker and allow you to better get to know your colleagues and clients despite being separated geographically.

What do I do if a roommate, significant other or family member walks in the background of the frame?

If in a more casual meeting, probably nothing. You may even decide to introduce them depending on the topic of conversation. However, if you’re in the middle of a big presentation or sitting in on a more formal video call, you have several options:

  1. Turn off your video momentarily. Especially if you suspect they will be in your video frame for longer than a few seconds. Doing this will be less distracting than your significant other flouncing past in their nightgown equivalent and doing some morning stretches.
  2. Inconspicuously let them know you’re on an important call. While turning off your camera for a moment shouldn’t be a problem, we understand that there are times when that may not feel like the right move. You may also ensure you are muted and inform those around you that you are “on a call”.

Given the above tips, we would first and foremost advise letting all of those in your household know that you should not be video bombed or interrupted before your meeting begins.

What do I do if I am having technical difficulties?

Unfortunately, technology has a way of occasionally giving us a run for our money. Before hosting a meeting, we recommend you hold a dry run. Practice sharing your screen, locking the meeting room, passing presenter controls and dialing in by phone as well as using computer audio so you are familiar with many different controls and scenarios.

However, if you find yourself in any of the below predicaments, check out these support pages:

For other queries, visit our support page here.

Do I need to wear makeup or do my hair?

While Hollywood glams up just about anyone who is preparing to go on screen, you are under no obligation to get made up for the majority of your video calls. However, that said, if your full getting-ready routine helps you feel more comfortable, productive and ready to jump into your work, then by all means, start applying that mascara and brush that hair! Oftentimes we like to put our best face forward when putting our best work forward, but this decision really comes down to personal preference.

Can people tell if I haven’t washed my hair on a video call?

Most likely, no. However, if you’re feeling exceptionally greasy or unkempt, try keeping a bottle of dry shampoo in stock for a quick spray before meetings. For those with long hair, you could also consider slicking your hair back into a ponytail, bun, headband or just using some hairclips to pin pieces back.

When should I be logging off? Do I just keep working because I don’t have a commute?

Finding a balance between work and home, especially without the commute delineating when our work brains can start and stop, is more important than ever. Do not find yourself in a situation where you feel pressured to always be “on” for work just because your commute has never been shorter. As employers enabling remote work, we have an exciting opportunity to create a more connected, happy, flexible, productive and innovated workforce. That cannot be done, however, if we’re not encouraging employees to create a healthy balance. For some, that may mean working your typical 9-to-5, but for others that could mean taking a midday meditation or exercise break. It could mean going on regular walks outdoors or switching up your routine to work different hours throughout the day.

Do I need a desk? Or is it ok to work from my couch?

Working from your couch or bed isn’t a bad short-term solution. However, not only will your back pay the consequences after a while, but your productivity may suffer as well. Having a dedicated workspace with a desk and office chair will help your posture as well as keep you mentally at work rather than seconds away from a nap or a TV break or in the hustle and bustle of a common room.

Do I take a lunch break? Or will people think I’m slacking since I am home?

Definitely make time for lunch! And breaks in general! We know that some days are busier than others, but being mindful of your health means making time — whether it’s at 11am or 3pm — to take a moment and eat lunch. If we may be so bold, we would even recommend having quick and healthy lunch — as well as snack — options on hand.

As a remote worker, you’re only steps away from your refrigerator and pantry at any given time. Because of this, it’s important that you have healthy food on hand to help you fuel up and keep your mind sharp and your mood elevated throughout the day.

From what we eat to what we wear, there’s not always the perfect “right” answer. Do what brings you the most joy, productivity and balance while working from home — and while staying in line with your company’s remote work policies of course.