My home office is now known as my corporate world headquarters. I love the fact that I don’t have to navigate up and down the traffic laden toll way, yet I still have most of the conveniences as the big ivory tower where I used to spend most of my time.
The corporate landscape is still changing from long commutes and cubicles to convenient and cozy home offices. But working at home requires discipline and professionalism. There is no reason for your clients to wonder if you are working in a home office, you should have the same professionalism as if you are in an office building. It is crucial that you leave all your customers with the impression that they are dealing with a professional.
Here is advice from home office professionals who have already learned the hard way – what not to do!
- Allowing your pet to make sounds. If you are on a business call and your dog is barking in the background, it will destroy your professional image.
- Snacking secretly. It is easier to have snacks at your home office desk, so do not be tempted to have a little snack or crunch on ice while talking on a conference/business call.
- Crying babies or screaming children. This too will destroy your professional image when you try to carry on a business call— you will not be taken seriously by the person on the other end of the phone. Plan your business call while the kids are away or napping.
- Watching daytime TV! Turn the Television or radio on mute while you’re on a business/conference call.
- Performing household chores. Refrain from doing the laundry or loading the dishwasher during a business call. Your audience can hear every move you make on the other end of the line. PLEASE, do not even try to sneak in a bathroom break during a call—you might as well flush your professional image good-bye.
- Using a family voice mail message. A professional message is as essential as a separate business phone number at your home.
- “Whaz’up?” Allowing little ones or teenagers to answer your business line will leave a bad impression on your business caller. Limits must be established for your home office telephone. Explain “professionalism” and the importance of your children not answering your phone.
- Having call waiting on your phone. This is a dead giveaway that you are on a home phone and do not have a professional home office setup. It is best to have a business line that sends another caller into a second line or directly into voice mail. Do not allow the home phone to ring continuously while you are on the other line.
- Forgetting to use the mute button. If you are on a conference/ business call, use the mute button on your telephone if you should need to have a side conversation.
- Playing music for everyone. Make sure your hold button does not play music when using it during a conference call.
- Giving your home address as your business address. If possible, leave “drive” or “avenue” off your business address. It is best to rent a P.O. box, which will give a professional appearance and offer personal security and privacy. Remember, also for safety reasons, you should avoid putting your home address on your web site.
- Ringing doorbells. Turn the volume down on your doorbell so that it does not sound like “Avon calling” to your client on the other end of the line.
- Using an improper office setup. Set up your office in a separate part of your home, and develop a mindset that this is your place of business and treat it as such.
- Wearing pajamas and fuzzy slippers. Working at home, you may find it easy to wear your pajamas to the office. Go ahead and get dressed; it helps you get into the work mode.
- Losing power. Be prepared for technical failures/power outages, and have phone numbers handy in case you need prompt help.
- Not receiving your faxes. Many home offices have the same fax number and office number; make sure to switch the faxmachine over when you are expecting a fax.
Joy Weaver is a renowned etiquette expert, speaker, and author of Just Ask Joy… How to Be Socially Savvy in All Situations
—a book highly endorsed by Jean and Zig Ziglar. Joy represents designer Joseph Ribkoff and is a regular guest on ABC’s Good Morning Texas. Her clients vary in range from corporate giants such as Raytheon, Sprint and Balfour Construction to Junior Leagues and National Charity Leagues across the nation. Joy is nationally published and has been featured on ABC’s The View, in the Associated Press, New York Times, USA Today, Southern Living Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and The Dallas Business Journal. Protocol Enterprises/Just Ask Joy is based in Dallas and has served clients across the country since 2000. You can follow Joy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SociallySavvy and learn more at www.justaskjoy.com.