This is a video from a Udemy course I created a few years ago to help people maximize their efficiency while working from remotely or from home. Instead of selling it as a paid course, I’m sharing the content here, for free. I hope you find it helpful. -Ron Stauffer

Some people can tend to think of working from home as giving them license to be less than professional, or take it less seriously, or assume that other people will be a little bit more forgiving. That might be true, but I recommend that you don’t assume that.

Here are a couple of examples where I think you can really knock it out of the park with your level of professionalism, regardless of whether you’re working remotely or from home or wherever.

Show up early for video conferences! Something that always kind of baffles me is when I schedule a video conference with somebody, if that video conference is scheduled for 2:00 PM, it seems like a lot of times they’ll show up at 2:03 PM and they’ll take three or four minutes to figure out how to use their microphone… turn on their webcam… they’re awkwardly looking at the screen saying: “Is this thing on?” There is no need for that! We know how to use this technology. Video conferencing has been around for 20 years or longer. In my opinion, you want to exude professionalism as much as you possibly can, especially if you’re working from home and in particular, if you are the one person or part of a remote team where everybody else is meeting.

So for example, if you’re the one who’s joining remotely into an in-person meeting, make yourself as presentable and professional as possible. It’s really simple. The first thing you do is you show up early: show up 5 or 10 minutes early to the video conference. Test your microphone, test your webcam, make sure “this thing is on.” Right? That’s very easy to do.

The second thing you can do is you can get an upgraded microphone. I’ve discussed this before with various office equipment that you can buy, and, even if like me, you have a MacBook Pro with a built-in microphone, sometimes if you’ve got ambient noise or background sounds, sometimes that might not be enough and it might be worth buying an external microphone.

For me, when I need to make a really important video conference, I don’t rely on the internal microphone of my MacBook Pro. I use a Blue Yeti external microphone. I plug it into my laptop with a USB cable and it is incredible how much better the audio quality is.

Another common mistake I see people make when they have phone calls or video conferences is: they’ll talk for 27, 43, 58 minutes, 119 minutes, whatever. Right. There’s a long period of time with multiple conversational elements back and forth, like a ping pong, volley back and forth. I say something, to you, you say something to me… on and on it goes. And then there’s so much said that by the time your phone call is done or your, video conference is done, you can forget like: “Okay, now, what were we going to do? We talked about so many different things.”

It’s really easy to get so distracted by having a good conversation that you can’t remember what the action items are that you’ve discussed. So for me, I’ve actually created a template that I have, hung on my wall, where I literally list out my phone call and video conference template.

After every phone call or video conference I have, I create the following type of list. Number one. Who did I talk to? Number two. What was the date? Number three. What was the method? Was it a call, a video conference or an in-person meeting? Number four: the location, if that’s applicable.

Next, I talk about the conversation and I’ll write out what was discussed, and what was decided. Finally, I have a section called next steps. I’ll write out what I’m responsible for, and when, what they’re responsible for, and when, and when we will talk or meet next. And I will send an invitation for that time as soon as I’m done. Having a sort of template, where you can regularly count on going back after the fact and looking at your paperwork and saying, you know, I met with Fred on Tuesday, but I can’t remember what he said about the such and such.

It’s so helpful to be able to know, well, in Fred’s folder on my computer, I have meeting notes and I know exactly where to look because I always keep track the exact same way every time. However you want to do this for yourself is fine. You don’t have to use my template, but I highly recommend you create some sort of system that is repeatable and sustainable, where every time at the end of a meeting, you know exactly what’s going to happen and who’s doing what.

This will also make you look really professional. It will shock the pants off of some of your clients or your boss that you can recall with such precision our meeting from six weeks ago where we discussed this, this and this, and then I suggested this, but you suggested this, and we decided this, which is due tomorrow, by the way, and I’m proactively reaching out to you.

Wow. They’ll be shocked at how much info you remembered and how proactive you’re being, because they totally forgot that something was due tomorrow. But because you brought it up, you look really professional. It’s my focus, when I work from home, to come across as professionally as possible, there are several ways to do that.

I’ve mentioned some of them, but ultimately, what matters is that you are easy to get in contact with, you know what needs to be done, you know who needs to do what, and you know when it’s due. And you’re proactive about reaching out to people, you’re scheduling meetings that need to be scheduled, you’re checking in on due dates before they’re due.

You’re making sure that you’re doing what you’re responsible for, but also that you’re checking on what the client or what your manager is responsible for. Being self disciplined as someone who works from home will make you look like a rockstar and they will be thrilled to be working with you, even though they can’t actually interact with you face to face.

The idea in my mind is that I want people to know that when they task me with something, they never have to worry about whether it’s going to get done or not.