Work it right

Updated: May 01, 2020, 10:02 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

A US official recently resigned after inappropriate behaviour on a Zoom meeting. Here's what you need to know while conducting yourself in front of colleagues from home.

Chris Platzer lifted his cat up and tossed it into the air during the Zoom call
Chris Platzer lifted his cat up and tossed it into the air during the Zoom call

Adjusting to a new normal isn't easy, and spiralling out of control can become the easier option. That's what happened to Chris Platzer, a city official from Vallejo, California, who was spotted drinking beer during a city planning commission meeting. But that wasn't the only inappropriate thing he did. After telling the other members that he'd like to introduce his cat, he lifted the feline and threw it with an audible thud. After several city leaders called for his resignation, Platzer gave in his resignation saying, "I did not conduct myself in the Zoom meeting in a manner befitting of a planning commissioner and apologise for any harm I may have inflicted." While virtual meetings will continue to be a crucial part of our work lives for the foreseeable future, here's how you should be conducting yourself for them.

Prepare in advance

Nidhika Bahl, a city-based internationally certified success coach, says that preparation is a must. "A meeting on Zoom is as good as any other meeting," she says. You need a designated work space and it cannot be your dining table. The background behind you shouldn't be too busy as it will be distracting. Always dress for the context. If you're going to be doing an audio call that displays your profile picture, then set a professional image, not one where you're on a vacation or doing something silly. Keep your family and pets out of the space; lock the door if you can. Also, test your audio and video connection beforehand.

Take note of the settings

"Marking the host territory is very important on Zoom. Basically, the person who hosts the meeting has all the controls. So, there should be clarity with regards to who is the host," Bahl explains. When video is turned off, it is easy to talk over the other person; use the 'raise hand' feature to indicate that you have a point to make. Avoid looking at yourself onscreen; look at the members instead. The host should always be the last person to exit the meeting.

Nidhika Bahl
Nidhika Bahl

Strike a balance

"Many companies have been taking advantage of the travel time employees are saving on, which isn't right. You have to set a start time and end time," she says. So, when you do log in, be 100 per cent involved with your work and when you log off, log off for good; do not multi-task. Take coffee or tea breaks or have it while you're in the meeting but avoid having lunch on screen. "Steve Jobs used to love walking while talking but don't do this on video as it will make people dizzy," Bahl advises. Don't give into the temptation of replying to emails and messages immediately, post work.

Want to quit?

Bahl suggests you think about it. Hard. And if you're certain, give your boss a call and convey your challenges and then send the email.

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