A Legal Counsel’s Observations on Work from Home Etiquette

  • 27 avril 2020
  • KJ Chong, legal counsel, BroadGrain Commodities Inc.

On March 16, 2020, I found myself lugging home all my active litigation document briefs in a grocery cart and an extra suitcase to my parked car. I had tried and failed to explain the sheer volume of paperwork to a co-worker who caught me in the elevator. He was carrying one leather book bag.

My company is far from an idealized work-from-home tech company that gives you breakfast bars in the fridge if (and if!) you attend at the office that day. Our office had to convert overnight from a tradition in-office environment to working remotely from home which had, until these moments, been the exception and not the norm.

I, the sole legal counsel, am still weaning myself off of printing paper daily. The absence of those printer ozone fumes may have provided me the following insight on the following thoughts on work from home etiquette and tips:

  1. Warn before you call.

It’s an unspoken rule to warn others (via message) before you call them. Maybe I’m getting old, but I could have sworn that phone calls were actually random occurrences and you would have to face with trepidation (or delight) with whoever it is on the line when you pick up. However, a colleague explained to me they had children and therefore it was polite to warn, so they could usher away their kids. This same rationale would apply for pet owners. Don’t even try initiating a teleconference call on a group chat (however few participants) without warning. Not everyone will be there who you may need, and no one really wants to be at a surprise meeting.

  1. Talk about something personal.

It’s a delight that our altered reality due to coronavirus is something we’re all facing and can meaningfully talk about. Being physically distant has brought me closer to others. So ditch the small talk and say something personally meaningful. If in the odd chance it’s not well received, your counterparty may just excuse you for the days you have endured lacking human contact.