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Don't Be That Guy on the Videoconference (Plus Virtual Work Party Pointers)

by Mary Isner / November 12, 2020

As I mentioned in my last blog, we are in an interim period in terms of returning to the workplace. Some people are starting to return to the office with protocols in place for social distancing, limited occupancy, and increased sanitation. Some are still full-time teleworking. Still others are falling somewhere in between – a combination of working in the office with safety protocols and teleworking the rest of the time. No matter where you fall, these friendly pointers from Miss Telework Manners may be helpful to you. In this installment, I offer solutions to two additional challenges you may be facing during these crazy times. Happy reading!

When Videoconferencing Goes Way Too Casual

Dear Miss Telework Manners: Please tell me I’m not crazy! I was recently on a videoconference with a representative from a firm that my firm was considering teaming with. The representative showed up with a baseball cap on backwards, a white undershirt and wait, it gets worse…he proceeded to eat his entire lunch while on camera! I am not even kidding! Am I wrong to be appalled by such behavior?

-- At Least Put On A Proper Shirt

Dear Proper Shirt:

Wow! That’s pretty shocking even to me, and I have been using videoconferencing regularly for a very long time. I think one of the perks of working from home is being more comfortable, but professionalism should not go out the window. You certainly don’t have to wear a suit for every Zoom, but a good rule of thumb is to follow the dress code of the person or persons you are videoconferencing with. Even if casual clothes are acceptable in most cases, you would not want to show up too casually if others tend to dress a bit more formally. Being camera-ready means no baseball caps and no undershirts. If you’re meeting with a new client or business contact, err on the side of “business casual” clothing. As far as eating lunch on camera, that’s a big no-no unless it’s established beforehand that this is a lunch meeting and that eating on camera is acceptable. Hope that helps! Good luck to you and stay well!

Holiday Party Etiquette for the Age of Social Distancing

Dear Miss Telework Manners: This year my company holiday party is going virtual. I am glad we aren’t letting the pandemic get in the way of our getting together to celebrate the holidays, but I am a little nervous about how to act. Do you have any pointers for navigating this uncharted festive territory?

-- Party On (Virtually)

Dear Party On:

This is a great question. Last year, I gave some office party etiquette tips but you are right, this is new territory. So, here are my office party etiquette tips for virtual events:

  • Consider being a teetotaler. Or, if you choose to drink, practice moderation. You do not want to have the “Did I really say that to my boss?!” feeling the next day. Please note that this rule only applies if you were told beforehand that drinking alcohol is permissible. If you are not, I do not recommend showing up with a cocktail in your hand!
  • Dress appropriately. While it is a more festive atmosphere, it is still a work function and you should dress professionally. You can add some fun holiday touches, but your outfit should still be appropriate for a work function (at least from the waist up).
  • Show up on time. Even if you prefer to show up “fashionably late” for social events, this is a work function and you should connect to your virtual party on time.
  • Keep the conversation light. Be friendly and avoid shop talk. Nobody likes a party pooper!
  • Don’t forget to say thank you. Before you sign off, thank the host or

Those are my pointers for a virtual work party. You may notice that they are almost the same as my pointers for an in-person work party. That is because almost all of the same rules apply, just with a twist. While this is a party, it is still a work function and you should behave accordingly. Have fun, but not too much fun!

I hope you have found this week’s tips both helpful and enjoyable. Here’s wishing everyone a productive and healthy work environment, wherever that may be! Be safe and well, everyone!

Tags: Telework

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Mary Isner

Mary Isner

Mary has a master’s degree in public administration and has worked as a facility planning analyst for Fentress since 2003. In her free time, she enjoys baking, decorating, and spending time with her family.