Of course our ‘Zoom etiquette’​ is slipping

Posted 02.02.21

I saw this article doing the rounds last week along with posts asking ‘is your Zoom etiquette slipping?’. There are some extreme examples in the piece (someone on Zoom whilst in the shower) but this quote jumped out at me:

“Times are difficult, but if you are lucky to have a job that allows you to work from home then respect your company and provide value.”

I think we need to all be very wary of allowing this insidious ‘be lucky to have a job at all’ mindset to creep in and excuse bad employment practices. In the main people are doing their level best in really awful circumstances. I am certainly finding the constant video calls cause me way more fatigue than I wasn’t expecting them to. Being on camera all day with colleagues and clients piles on a pressure that you probably wouldn’t feel in person. It heightens the sense that one has to ‘perform’ and stay ‘on’ at all times. Something I’ve started doing this year is a longer walk at the end of each day aiming to hit at least 10k steps. If I can get to the end of each week at least a little more physically tired then mentally drained I’ll claim that as a victory.

The article gives another example of a team unable to start a morning meeting without first being forced to sit through some sort of ‘baby parade’. I’m not suggesting that people displaying their offspring at the start of every day has to be everyone’s cup of tea but this again feels like an attempt to make sure every second of the day is dedicated to ‘work mode’. The flip side of that means that allowing any of our real lives to seep into precious productivity time should be avoided at all costs. The reality is that we all now live where we work and work where we live and to try and keep the two spaces completely separate is impossible. It adds undue pressure to expect people to keep their home lives neatly out of the way. Cats will walk across desks, doorbells will ring, children will – unsurprisingly – not have a grasp on the dynamics of client meetings and that really needs to be ok. Because we are all in the same boat.

I was on a call last week where someone recommended employers insist on having everyone put cameras on during every call in order to spot signs of burnout or poor mental health in employees. I found this advice baffling – especially during an ‘improving mental health at work’ seminar. Being able to offer one or two meetings a day where people can choose to not feel the pressure to perform is the least we can do as an employer. We should be reaching out to check on one another and discussing how we’re coping rather than trying to ‘spot signs’. The People & Opps team at Wilderness have been amazing putting in place practices throughout Lockdown that keep us all connected and make sure that everyone is alright. Beyond that, the whole team have come together while working apart to just be humans and check in on one another.

So yeah you probably shouldn’t smoke or nod off or get tanked or get in the shower while you’re on Zoom. But you also shouldn’t enforce practices that don’t allow for humanity in the workplace either.

Jamie Maple – Managing Director

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