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Zoom effect sees workplace etiquette slipping

27 October 2020

A new survey of those working from home because of the pandemic has found that the standard of workplace manners is falling as meetings go online.

Zoom users have soared from ten million to 300 million during the coronavirus pandemic. But a survey of 1,000 people working from home due to COVID-19 has found that workplace etiquette is becoming more lax, especially when it comes to Zoom meetings.

The poll was conducted by Censuswide for tech PR firm Eskenzi PR. Almost half of those surveyed said that colleagues have turned up late to virtual meetings and over half have been interrupted by colleagues on calls.

The survey also found that 47% of people felt that their colleagues were distracted on video calls and nine in ten Brits admit that they often look at themselves instead of focusing on the meeting.

The key findings show that:

  • 91% admit they've been distracted by their own image on screen;
  • 85% have worked on emails during meetings or have seen others doing so;
  • 77% say they have sent texts during a Zoom meeting;
  • 66% report eating during a Zoom meeting;
  • 18% say they have had an alcoholic drink;
  • 17% have smoked or vaped;
  • 12% say they have picked their spots and 11% have picked their teeth on video calls.

However, experts are warning that employees could be damaging their own prospects if they are too casual on a work call. "Our survey has shown that people tend to let their guard down during Zoom meetings at home, which can be detrimental to their careers as they are still being judged on these calls," said Yvonne Eskenzi, director and founder of Eskenzi PR.

"Many have seen colleagues turn up late, speak over others, drink, eat and even smoke on calls. There is a certain etiquette to Zoom calls, which would be sensible to follow if you're hoping for a promotion or want to be looked at favourably by your colleagues and superiors."

Some employees are grappling with "Zoom fatigue" according to the study but 40% of respondents said that they have got to know their colleagues better in this new work environment, helping to improve colleague relationships.

Eskenzi PR has come up with some simple rules for Zoom call etiquette:

  • Take calls in a quiet place, or use a headset to block out background noise;
  • Check your microphone and camera are working properly before starting a call;
  • Ensure you have a work-appropriate background;
  • Make sure you look presentable;
  • Limit distractions by turning off devices and notifications;
  • Don't be late for calls;
  • Look at the camera when talking;
  • Do not eat, drink or text during calls;
  • Don't do other work tasks while on Zoom calls.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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