Mastering Video Call Etiquette

In this COVID-19 social-distanced world, video conferencing has quickly become a daily part of our lives from business meetings to social cocktail hours with friends. In the business world, everyone is talking about shoring up security for video conferencing and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and as a security company, we agree that’s essential. However, today we want to discuss a different topic – video call etiquette.

That’s right- video call etiquette.

Ahem, we’re talking to all of you who take your laptop into the bathroom and think we can’t see or hear you. Newsflash- we can.

While some of these well-publicized flubs are highly entertaining and somewhat hard to believe, for our sake and yours we’ve assembled some dos and don’ts of video call etiquette. As a distributed workplace, we’ve spent the past 7 years relying on video conferencing to stay connected. Lucky for you, that means we’ve spent that time navigating the world of business video calls and making our share of missteps. So in the spirit of sharing, we’ve put together our top 9 lessons learned.

The 9 Dos and Don’ts of Video Call Etiquette

While these may seem elementary to you, trust us- they are worth putting down on paper (or the internet in this case).

1. Don’t Make Someone Wish They Could Unsee You, so Please Do Dress Appropriately – That’s right- pants are required. You don’t need to wear a suit, but please leave the pajamas for bedtime. And if you insist on wearing gym shorts with your dress shirt, please don’t get up and answer the door on a call.

2. Don’t Invite Your Colleagues to a Bedroom Pajama Party. Do Conduct Video Calls from an Appropriate Room in Your Home – Your bedroom may be a quiet place to work from, but lounging in bed during a call – not so much. And don’t forget rule #1.

3. Don’t Have Important Family Discussions During a Work Call. Do have Important Family Discussions When Appropriate. We are all adjusting to working with a household full of people, but please save the family drama for after hours – unless we can grab some popcorn to watch. Just kidding!

4. Don’t Eat While on a Call. Do Make Time to Eat Regular Meals. Save the potato crunching, bag rustling, loud eating, and slurping for lunch time. Our eardrums thank you.

5. Don’t Multi-task. Do Turn on Cameras and Put Away Distractions – Just because your camera isn’t on doesn’t mean we can’t hear you whipping up that smoothie. And if you don’t have your camera on during meetings, it’s too easy to get caught up in gaming or checking your Instagram account. Make that personal connection with your colleagues and bring your best to meetings, simply by turning that camera on.

6. Don’t Inflict Deafness Upon Your Colleague. Do Mute if You Need to Cough or Sneeze. Your mic amplifies your elephant-like sneeze so please mute yourself if you must sneeze, cough, or make other bodily noises. Once again, our eardrums thank you.

7. Don’t Be ‘That’ Person. Do Mute Yourself if You Have Lots of Background Noise. Kids practicing instruments, kids running wild, landscapers running lawn mowers outside your window- you get the picture. The mute button is there for a reason.

8. Don’t Bring Your Whole House or Family to the Call. Do Use a Virtual Background if Needed. No one want to see that week-old pile of unfolded- or worse- dirty laundry. And as cute as your kids making faces behind you are, a virtual background is the perfect solution if you’re sharing a room with family.

9. Don’t Bring Your Meeting to Breaks. Do Schedule Breaks Between Meetings. No one want to see or hear you on your bathroom break – trust us on this one. Aside from the humiliation you’ll feel on the spot, you don’t want to be reminded of your mistake for eternity. It’ll just be too hard for your colleagues to EVER let this one go.

Expect Some Bumps Along the Way

No one is perfect, and life and kids happen, so you will make some mistakes along the path to mastering video call etiquette. Just in case you’re still having a hard team envisioning how anyone would actually do any of these things, the Saltworks Security team has graciously shared footage of their funniest/most awkward moments from video conferencing over the years. Grab some popcorn and enjoy. You’re welcome!

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