Have you been on the receiving end of some untoward cloud-based etiquette? At one point or another, I’m sure all of us has experienced a video conference with someone while their roommate was chowing down on Chipotle in the background. If not, count your lucky stars, as it’s not a pretty scene.
There are a number of things that become undeniably easier by taking business to the cloud. For example, cloud accounting services can save you time and paperwork, but that doesn’t mean you can skimp on manners. Here are our 11 lessons in cloud-based etiquette:
1) Ensure you are in a location with minimal background noise.
2) Sit in front of a wall instead of a window. That way you’re not backlit and you can reduce distractions happening behind you. (e.g., burrito-loving roommate).
3) Plan ahead if you are going to be screen sharing. When sharing your screen, be sure to only share the active window so that viewers aren’t distracted by your other programs or files that may be viewable in the taskbar. Better yet, if you have an additional monitor or display, prepare everything you plan to share on one monitor. Finally, ensure that anything confidential is not open.
4) Keep emails and subject lines concise. If you find you are having to elaborate too much, it’s time to pick up the phone. As for subject lines, most email providers have a maximum of around 50 characters, while mobile is approximately 25-30.
5) Don’t just keep them short; also, write useful subject lines:
~Be specific: “Do you have a minute to talk?” is vague. Try, “Let’s meet to discuss the edits needed for the budget” instead.
~Use words that people would logically search for. Instead of “Please review the attached,” include what they are reviewing: “Cloud-Based Etiquette blog draft for review.”
~Indicate whether a response is needed and, if so, when. You are more likely to see a response sooner if there is a deadline included or if you have noted whether someone’s action is required.
6) Compress files before hitting send or use a cloud-based storage solution with a shareable link (think GDrive, Dropbox, Box). There is nothing more frustrating than receiving an email that takes forever to load because of a huge attachment. Never mind that if the recipient is not using a cloud-based email provider then there is a chance your email will likely not make it to their inbox.
7) Is it safe to say that faxes are the snail-mail of this decade? There is no doubt that cloud-based companies might scoff at a request for a fax, but some businesses still require them. Luckily, it is possible to be cloud-based and still send a fax online. There are any number of apps that offer this ability. Simply search “send a fax online” and you will see a plethora of free and paid options to try out.
8) Our vote is always for paperless. That being said, we do work in accounting and the reality is there are still items that involve cold hard cash (or checks). The solution? Look into apps that take care of these checks for you, like Bill.com, or pay your vendors using either direct deposits or their check services. Encourage your customers to join you by offering pre-pay options. BONUS: Having customers pre-pay for your services or products lowers your receivables and is good for cash flow.
9) When in doubt, go formal over informal. It’s that simple.
10) When recently discussing cloud-based etiquette as a team, our manager, Monique Bonamer, reminded us to, “approach your fellow coworkers with caution, as they could be on a call.” Respect your coworkers and remember they could be in a video-meeting even if it doesn’t seem obvious.
11) Finally, don’t forget to first connect with a person over video conference or on the phone before jumping into “work.” It is too easy sometimes when you are cloud-based to forget that there are actual people involved, whether they are your customers, vendors, colleagues or industry peers. Making a point to create a true connection is essential if you are in sales or looking for positive online reviews.
Follow these 11 lessons and you might just be ordained a (cloud-based) etiquette king or queen.