Work from Home Ethics & Etiquette
- Abide by city, state, and federal laws because a law suit is really the last thing that you want or need to deal with when it comes to business. For instance, did you know that in some towns you can’t run certain types of businesses from your home? Some cities or states may require you to have a certain type of license to run a specific kind of business. It doesn’t matter whether you think the law is stupid.
- Respect client confidentiality. You may or may not sign an NDA with your client. Even if you don’t, remember the golden rule and treat others how you want to be treated. If you’d like to share something related to their project, get the permission of the client.
- Be honest and upfront with clients and potential clients. No one likes a liar.
- Be respectful with your words and actions toward your clients and prospective clients. Not everyone is going to be a good fit. You can part ways amicably. Remember that the entire world is watching you on social media. Everything you say and do even on your personal accounts is subject to scrutiny. You’re free to say what you want, but you won’t be free of the consequences.
- Be honest in your advertising or description of services.
- Stay away from slang words and misleading phrases.
- Deliver on time, every time. The only exception is delivering early.
- Clear, concise, and professional communication with clients, potential clients, former clients, and other providers.
- Use contracts that are fair to everyone involved.
- Stay committed to education.
- Stay committed to excellence.
- Uphold your promises and agreements.
- Act like a professional. I realize we live in the information age and people want everything now. That’s no excuse for being unprofessional. That’s no excuse for treating people poorly. Remember that others who work from home are your colleagues. You may need a reference or you may want people to send you overflow work. That’s not going to happen if you’re unprofessional. Don’t act in a demeaning way toward clients or potential clients…or anyone else. Not only is it rude, it can also affect your business in the long run.
- Be courteous. Basic courtesy can go a long way in growing your business.
- Don’t talk down to anyone. Clients have a choice. They can find another provider.
- Keep semi-regular hours. I know that part of the draw to working from home is flexibility. I know I appreciate being able to set my own hours. Remember that many of your clients already keep regular hours and they need to know when they can talk to you.
- Be honest about your policies. If you plan to act as a middle man and outsource all your projects to others, make sure that clients know and that they are okay with this. Otherwise, you could hurt your reputation.
- Respect the time of others. Your day is no more or no less important than that of anyone else. While long-term clients may be very understanding of a day where your child is sick, it’s really not the problem of your clients and I’d bet a nickel that you could have avoided missing a deadline by better time management earlier during the project. One of the ways you can respect the time of others (and your own time) is by setting up a schedule and sticking to it. When school is in session, my work hours are 9 am to 3 pm. That’s six hours of uninterrupted time. During the summer, I get up before anyone else and work. I also work throughout the day.
- Stay on top of your email and reply where necessary. Triage and trash. Triage your email to determine if you need to respond or put it on a to-do list. Trash what you don’t need. Clients and others you work with shouldn’t have to wait days or weeks to hear back from you because you lost an email.
- Understand what your responsibilities are and uphold them. If a client or other work from home professional sends you a project, you get on the same page about the requirements. You ask questions where necessary. You adhere to what they say they need done. If they say no outsourcing, then you do it yourself. Anything less than upholding your responsibilities is a form of dishonesty.