6 Things You Should Never Do in a Remote Meeting


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Monday, December 14, 2020

The last decade has seen a slow and steady shift towards remote and flexible working, something which was then accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount of people now working from home has reached unprecedented levels and professionals have quickly had to adapt to this new way of operating.

Article 4 Minutes
6 Things You Should Never Do in a Remote Meeting

This meant that many have had to get to grips with new technologies and strategies, in particular using online and audio-conferencing calls as the main tool for interacting with one another. This has also meant learning a whole range of new behaviors and video meeting etiquette.

But this is still new to everybody and you’d be forgiven for the occasional conference call faux pas, but with the likes of Zoom, Google Hangouts and other communication tools becoming a part of our everyday working lives, it’s important that all professionals are able to conduct themselves appropriately.

To make this easier, we’ve pulled together a list of six things you should never do in a remote meeting. Get familiar with these common mistakes so that you can avoid them in the future.

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1. Don’t log on in your pajamas

One of the biggest benefits of working from home is that you don't have to get dressed up. Instead, you can throw your hair up in a messy bun and work in your pajamas if you want. That being said, you should never show up to a virtual meeting like this.

Remember, while your meeting is being conducted remotely, it’s still a professional event and needs to be treated as such. On days when you have a meeting scheduled, put on your usual smart work attire and make sure you always look presentable.

2. Don’t snack during your meeting

It’s unlikely that you’d whip out a bag of crisps or start making your way through a pack of biscuits when sitting in the boardroom, and the same rules apply when attending a virtual meeting. Though it can be tempting, especially if you’ve just stocked your kitchen cupboards with your favorite treats, you should avoid snacking during meetings.

The meeting will only go on for so long, so just hold off. If you really must eat during the call, choose something quiet that isn't going to distract everyone involved.

3. Don’t choose a busy or distracting location

Not everyone has the luxury of a home office; some may be working from their living room tables, bedrooms or conservatories, but you still need to be cautious of your surroundings during a virtual meeting. Make sure you keep the area tidy and don't sit in front of any distracting artwork or wallpapers. After all, you want all participants to be engaged in the meeting, not watching the TV behind you or staring at your ever-mounting pile of laundry.

4.  Don’t let your pets or family wander around freely

Similarly, you need to eliminate distractions for both you and other meeting participants, which means you can’t have your family, housemates or pets just wandering around in the background. This can be very distracting and could draw attention away from the meeting at hand. Where possible you should close the door to keep all other people and noise out. If you know you’ve got a meeting scheduled, ask that others in your household stay quiet or leave the room during this time.

5. Don’t just wander off

Whether you're making a coffee, shutting your office door or looking out for the postman, you can’t simply get up and wander off during the meeting. If you really must pause and get up to do something, be sure to let other participants know, but in an ideal world you should make sure you have everything you need and everything is effectively prepared before you begin the meeting. That way you should have zero reason to leave your spot until the meeting is over.

6. Don’t speak over people

Last but not least, you need to make sure you're not cutting anyone off when they're speaking, which can be tricky if there’s a delay. Be sure that you leave a little pause before answering and don’t talk over other participants. Similarly, it’s best to avoid asking open-ended questions to everyone, especially during a meeting with numerous participants. Otherwise, you might find your co-workers are tripping over each other trying to answer and it becomes confusing. Always be specific when addressing someone or asking them a question.

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Join the conversation...

16/02/2021 Tyrone
Wow. Insights for what professionals? Aren't #3 and #4 the same thing?
10/06/2021 Nick
I think that homeworking during the pandemic has taught us exactly the opposite to this rigid and corporate approach to remote working. I have met on Teams calls lots of partners bringing cups of tea, children sharing drawings, pets getting in on the action. I have seen colleagues drinks, breakfast and lunch, and a few biscuits and cakes. None of which has prevented a hugely productive, but relaxed and easygoing meeting that offers value and fun. Long may it continue.
10/10/2021 Joe
Since I have not been in the 5th grade for more than 50 years, I've figured out how to be an adult while participating in face to face and online meetings quite well. I don't do live camera, very distracting. I rather enjoy when someone's family needs them and they make them a priority. I do the same. I have given tech support reps hours of my time on my nickel just because I think it is fantastic witnessing remote cultures and lives that matter elsewhere. My work is my livelihood, but living is so much more grand! Thanks for the reminder of what it must be like for adults in the 5th grade. :)