Working from home means that you will most likely need to take part in conference calls either over the phone or via an online video connection with your clients from time to time - especially if your contacts at the other end work remotely too.
Conference calls are increasingly part of the day-to-day job of home-based limited company contractors and freelancers and are an opportunity to make a strong impression with your contacts. It is therefore essential that you remain as professional as possible when on these calls, as your behaviour could impact your reputation as a contractor.
According to new research from conference call provider Polycom, the average UK worker currently takes part in five calls of this kind each month, with 42 per cent adopting a special 'phone voice' in order to appear as professional as possible.
However, the survey also revealed some of the conference call behaviour that can irritate other participants, which includes getting someone's name wrong (something one in six respondents admitted to doing in the past), as well as the use of 'meaningless' buzzwords. 'Going forwards', 'touch base' and 'ducks in a row' were named as the three most annoying phrases of all.
Meanwhile, 17 per cent of those questioned said they had accidentally dialled into the wrong conference call in the past, as they weren't paying full attention. This mishap would have made them late for their actual call, so it's vital that contractors are taking care to avoid similar mistakes themselves, as some clients won't be impressed by tardiness.
What's more, one in five respondents said they had seen another participant's pet on a video call in the past. This could be distracting for others on the video conference, so it is best to keep the camera turned off if you are worried about any potential disturbances.
Emma Dupont, a business etiquette expert, offered some best practice advice, stating: "With many people now working from their home office, it is vital to remember that a professional image is still paramount.
"We should approach conference calls and webcam meetings with the same care and attention that we would in an office environment and give specific consideration to our appearance, our diction and the backdrop that can be seen on a video call."