Over the past year, more and more workplaces have embraced telework or work from home – and some may never go back to a full presence in the office. Telework offers many benefits for employees, but it also requires a high level of trust. Ethical behavior by employees is essential for maintaining that trust in today’s business environment.
Ethics can seem rather abstract sometimes, but it really comes down to honesty and open communication with others on your team and with your managers. Here are some practical ways to demonstrate ethical behavior while teleworking:
- Keep your calendar up to date with your schedule, and be honest about when you plan to be away for personal time, like eating lunch with your kids or running an errand.
- Keep email and phone alerts active. Working from home doesn’t mean you can ignore the phone. Forward your desk phone to a mobile phone if that is an option, and answer and return calls in a timely manner.
- Have a dedicated place to work – even if it is just one corner of a quiet room. Distractions will keep you from being focused on what you are being paid to do.
- Communicate actively about work assignments, and be accountable for deadlines. You may not see your supervisor as often when teleworking, so invest effort in keeping them up to date for your progress on key assignments.
- Monitor your energy levels and take steps to regain focus when it is lost. In the office, you may get up and visit the break room to regroup. While teleworking, the equivalent may be a walk around the block or quick phone call to a colleague. Know your patterns, and take the steps you need to take to maintain productivity.
- Take leave when you need it. Personal and professional time can get blurred when you are working at home – be responsible in requesting leave when you really need to recharge or meet family demands.
Business ethics is about what is right and wrong in the workplace – being ethical means doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. This clearly applies when teleworking! Being self-aware and communicating with others makes your commitment to the organization more visible – and helps you do the right thing at the right time.