Wearing sweatpants while working from home is bliss until….. your boss says, “Hey, I’ll see you in 5 minutes.” Panic mode on, sweatpants out. This isn’t just me but almost every remote worker, right? Virtual meetings are the new conference room. While we know nobody’s watching our knees, most of us still feel the need to change your outfit before getting on that call. Why is that? Virtual meeting etiquette is a thing, and part of our human behaviour already exhibits good manners in a social setting.
Remote work isn’t all about learning how to deal with excessive workload and stress. To reach your highest potential, you could also follow some virtual meeting norms that will help you improve your performance as a remote employee. So, what are virtual meeting etiquette dos and don’ts? Let’s zoom in (pun intended) on some of them!
Virtual Meeting Etiquette Rules
- Be prepared
- Be on time
- Prepare your mind AND body for the virtual meeting.
- No video bombing
- Instagram can wait
- Video on even on bad hair days
- Mute and cute
- Don’t interrupt
Virtual Meeting Etiquette Rules Explained
1. Be Prepared
The notebook, planner, stationery, et al. Once you’ve covered your work-at-home safety checklist and set up your remote office successfully, get everything you need for your meeting at least ten minutes before it starts. Keep in mind that preparation for a virtual meeting isn’t just about the material things but also about the agenda. Do you know what the meeting is about? Are you prepared with all the questions and points you would like to discuss in that zoom meeting?
You don’t want to be lost and be someone who doesn’t care what the meeting is about. A virtual meeting is the only time when all team members come together to discuss important tasks or projects. This is the only time in the day or week when everyone can speak their mind and offer their opinions and inputs. Being prepared helps you understand your own points that you’d like to put forward during the work meeting.
2. Be On Time
Fashionably late isn’t very fashionable anymore. When it comes to virtual meetings, everyone from your boss to your colleagues have made time in their busy schedules to accommodate the meeting. Everyone’s time is important, including your own. Being late is rude and shows that you don’t value the meeting nor anyone’s time.
If you continue to be late for your work meetings wasting everyone’s time and energy, your boss will be late too when it’s appraisal time.
3. Prepare Your Mind AND Your Body For The Meeting
Let’s get back to the sweatpants discussion. When you go for an in-person meeting, your mind understands that you’re stepping out and signals your body to act accordingly. You stretch, take a shower, and dress appropriately for the meeting. Why should that be any different for a virtual meeting (except the stepping out part)?
Even if it isn’t an in-person meeting, it still is a work meeting. Giving your work-related zoom meetings equal importance will help you look at remote work no differently than an in-office job. Also, dressing up for work has a huge impact on our mental well-being and even our performance. No harm in changing your outfit for just a couple of hours or so a day as compared to 8 hours every day which was the case in a traditional in-office work setting. 6 hours of sweatpants, 2 hours of trousers. Not bad! Look at the perks and stop being lazy.
4. No Video Bombing
Only cute cats, pooches, and other furry and feathery friends are allowed. Family, friends, roommates and other video bombing experts need to be informed that you’re about to get into a virtual meeting so that they don’t interrupt you or enter the room you’re in while your work meeting is on.
5. Instagram Can Wait
While it’s tempting to check the notifications on your smartphone, virtual meetings aren’t the best times to do so. Keep your phone on silent mode while your work meeting is on to avoid any distractions.
Giving your full attention to the meeting helps your coworkers know that you’re focused. Constantly checking your phone during the meeting gives the impression that you’re disinterested in what your colleagues are discussing and that’s rude. You’ll also end up missing out on important points in the meeting.
6. Video On Even on Bad Hair Days
You’re embarrassed you don’t look as amazing today or are just plain lazy to get up and get dressed. Either way, not keeping the video mode on during virtual meetings is unprofessional unless you have an emergency like bad Internet that doesn’t allow the video to load.
A virtual zoom meeting is not just an audio conference because talking face-to-face helps understand facial expressions and hand gestures better. It’s easier to interpret body language and context during a video meeting. Also, a virtual meeting is clearly as close as you can get to an in-person meeting.
If there’s someone at your door or an emergency that you need to attend to, excuse yourself by leaving a chat message on the virtual conference platform stating that you’ll be right back. That’s good virtual meeting etiquette. Let your coworkers know that you’re switching the video off. Don’t just disappear and reappear like a ghost. Would you sneak out the door during an in-person meeting without excusing yourself?
7. Mute and Cute
It’s not your turn to talk during the virtual meeting, but your parrot decided to repeat what your coworker just said. Even better, your ceiling fan decided to make some creaky sounds that aren’t any different from what a plane crash sounds like.
Stop startling your coworkers or making them repeat themselves just to be heard. Let there be no orchestra, and leave that role for those who don’t care about empathizing with their teammates. How do you achieve that? Mute yourself when you’re not talking during the virtual meeting. Thank you.
8. Don’t Interrupt
Coworker 1: “So, I feel that we should…”
Coworker 2: “Exactly, we should not register for that event..”
Coworker 1: “No, what I am saying is that..”
Coworker 2: “Aaah.. Yes, I get your point. Let’s sign up for it then.”
If I was coworker 1, I’d be annoyed beyond repair. If I was coworker 2, I’d need to learn virtual meeting etiquette. As you can clearly see, coworker 2 isn’t just interrupting coworker 1 but is also assuming, misinterpreting, and miscommunicating. This can end up confusing the entire team and wasting everyone’s time.
This problem is easy to resolve. You have to simply wait for your coworker to finish what they’re saying. Once they’re done discussing their point, you can talk. Waiting for your turn is always good etiquette in every situation unless there’s a “first come, first serve” discount somewhere!
Back To Sweatpants
By now, you know how obsessed I am with sweatpants. I know I’m not alone. While all of us wish we could spend our entire life in sweatpants because they’re so comfy, we also know that it’s not ideal for every situation. So, next time you have a virtual meeting, remember to change your outfit, know when to mute yourself, talk when it’s your turn, keep your phones on silent mode, and get there at least 3 minutes before the meeting begins.
Don’t overdo the perfume.