What is and is not acceptable behaviour on a work video meeting?

Jemma ConnerResearch Manager
June 20, 2023, 9:55 AM GMT+0

Britons who have video meetings at work say no smoking, eating, or pyjamas while on Zoom

Whilst life is largely back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic, one aspect of lockdown life that many people have continued to embrace is working from home, with many previously office-based workers relying on video meetings to speak to colleagues and conduct their business.

But what behaviour is and is not acceptable in a virtual meeting? New YouGov data explores the dos and don’ts of online meetings for the modern worker.

The biggest Zoom etiquette no-nos: smoking, background noise, and dressing gowns

Britons who use video meetings at work are very clear on their opinion of smoking/vaping in virtual meetings, with eight in ten (81%) declaring that this is never acceptable.

It is also strongly deemed unacceptable to have the radio or television playing in the background of a meeting, with a similar number (80%) saying this is never appropriate in a meeting.

Its bad news for pyjama-lovers, with 72% saying it is never acceptable to take a meeting in your dressing gown or pyjamas. While sales of loungewear soared during the pandemic, it seems that this type of clothing is not considered suitable for a virtual meeting environment, with just 3% saying pyjamas/dressing gown can be worn in any meeting.

Don’t Zoom with children or animals

Workers are much more receptive to seeing pets on their screen during meetings than children – a third (33%) say it is acceptable to have pets in the room for any meeting type, compared to just 7% saying the same of children.

Around half (47%) say it is never acceptable to have children in the room, with a further 41% having a slightly more relaxed approach, saying they can be in the room for informal meetings but not formal ones.

While few working parents think it is acceptable to have their children in the room for all meetings (7%), they are much more likely to say that a child’s presence is permissible for informal meetings: 52% of workers who use video meetings, and have children under the age of 5, say this is acceptable. Just a third (33%) say this is never appropriate, compared to half (47%) of all remote workers.

Where is it acceptable to take a video meeting?

According to video meeting aficionados, where you can sit at home for your virtual meeting depends on the kind of meeting you are having. While the temperatures might be climbing, just 25% say it is always ok to take a video meeting while sitting outside. Likewise, only 33% think the sofa is appropriate seating for a meeting. Just 18% and 15% respectively say these video venues are unacceptable under any circumstances, however, with around half (48-52%) saying it’s ok for informal meetings.

Taking a video meeting while in a public place is much more likely to be seen as a breach of etiquette. Around one in three workers who attend virtual meetings say that doing so from a train (33%) or a coffee shop or cafe (31%) is unacceptable for any meeting. Only 15-17% say it is always ok, while 44-49% say it can be alright for informal meetings.

Is it ok to turn your camera off during video meetings?

While some managers may worry that not having your camera turned on means their colleagues aren’t paying attention, it is something that is considered perfectly acceptable by half (48%) of workers who ever take video calls. A further quarter think it’s only ok to do so in informal meetings (27%), while one in six (18%) say that it’s never acceptable to stop your video feed.

More frowned upon is typing or working on something unrelated during the meeting. While some might argue this represents double-productivity, it is unacceptable to 44% of workers in all circumstances. Four in ten (39%) say it’s only ok for informal meetings, while just one in eight (12%) say it’s acceptable for all meetings.

See the full results here

Photo: Getty

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