Zoom Etiquette Tips for Work From Home and Video Conferencing

Author: Gina Cunsolo

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Zoom Etiquette Tips for Work from Home and Video Conferencing

Just a few years ago, few people had heard of the videoconferencing platform, Zoom. First launched in 2013, the platform had about 10 million users as of the end of 2019.

Thanks to the lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, though, the popularity of Zoom has skyrocketed. Organizations ranging from elementary schools to global corporations began using Zoom to keep the lines of communication open.  By April 2020 the service was seeing 300 million daily users, and terms such as “Zoom fatigue” or simply “Zooming” were a regular part of our vocabulary. The Zoom mobile app was downloaded 485 million times in 2020.

Although Zoom usage may have leveled off somewhat as the pandemic appears to be on the wane, it’s a good bet that videoconferencing will remain a part of our work lives for the foreseeable future. And just as there are unwritten rules regarding office etiquette and standards of behavior, standards regarding Zoom etiquette are beginning to emerge as well.

Etiquette for Zoom and other video conferencing platforms

For the first few months of COVID-19 quarantines, mishaps regarding Zoom meeting etiquette were a source of humor. Many of us have been on conference calls while working from home where the discussion was overshadowed by the sound of a barking dog, or an important presentation was interrupted by a child needing some assistance. Occasionally, someone wearing a suit stood up during a videoconference, having forgotten that they put on a suit jacket to convey professionalism but were also wearing sweatpants or shorts (or worse) thinking that part of their wardrobe would remain out of view.

Those occurrences may have drawn laughter at first, but things like noisy rooms, bad cases echo, or forgetful attendees can start to become problematic. With so much business being conducted via Zoom these days, it’s important that employees and managers are all on the same page with how to conduct an efficient Zoom meeting.

With that in mind, here are some guidelines to follow when it comes to Zoom etiquette:

Log in a few minutes early – Depending on your computer and/or Internet connection, logging into Zoom may take a minute or two. If you wait until the last possible second to log in, you run the risk of either delaying the start of the meeting, missing important information, or forcing the leader to repeat what they’ve already said. In much the same way as strolling into a face-to-face meeting or class a few minutes late conveys unprofessionalism, logging in late to a Zoom meeting makes others think you’re not interested in the proceedings.

When in doubt, dress for Zoom as if you’re in the office – This is particularly important when it comes to Zoom interview etiquette for a job search or participating in a remote court proceeding. Although you’re likely to be participating in the session from your home office, dressing appropriately conveys an atmosphere of professionalism. Some companies are totally cool with more relaxed clothing styles on Zoom calls, but when in doubt, leave the flannel shirts and sweatpants for another time!

Mind the mute button – We’ve all likely encountered situations where we could see a speaker’s lips moving but couldn’t hear what they were saying. It’s only when someone says, “Hey, I think you’re muted” that they correct the issue. And while that’s an inconvenience, even worse are the situations where someone thought they were muted but actually weren’t, treating the audience to the sounds of them munching on a sandwich, or even worse, carrying on a conversation with others in the room.

Assign a co-host for your Zoom meeting – Many Zoom controls such as screen share can only be used while serving as a meeting host. Zoom allows the host to assign others as co-hosts. If you’re delivering a complicated presentation that involves PowerPoint or other multimedia applications, things may run smoother if you enlist an assistant.

Be mindful of turning video on or off during a remote meeting – Unless attendees are actively participating in the discussion, without video it’s difficult to tell if they are paying attention. That’s particularly important when it comes to Zoom etiquette for students. In a business setting, you can also miss valuable body language from other attendees if their cameras are off. Making everyone turn on their camera at the beginning of the meeting can help increase engagement, but be mindful of whether or not it’s really pertinent to the meeting. For example, a presentation might not require much input from attendees. In this situation, cameras being off can create a less stressful meeting for everyone.

Pay attention to your room and background – Before logging in to a Zoom call, take stock of what will be visible behind you. One way that companies have worked to liven up Zoom sessions is by having a “best background” contest. Those can be good fun and a great way to spice up the session. On the other hand, there have been several reported instances of someone who had inappropriate items or dirty dishes on a shelf behind them. If your room isn’t prepared for a Zoom call, consider using a virtual background or applying a bokeh effect to blur what’s behind you.

Monitor the chat function – It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally participants in a Zoom session can have trouble with their audio and need to alert the meeting host via the chat box. It can be difficult to monitor while you’re conducting a meeting, so consider appointing someone else in the meeting to handle the task. If you’re using the chat function, adhere to the same rules you do for email. Zoom chat etiquette discourages typing messages in all capital letters. Strive for correct spelling and punctuation as well. And if your message is for a specific person, use the private chat feature instead of sending it to the entire group.

Make sure your Zoom equipment is up to the task for high quality audio and video

Numerous surveys and studies have predicted that the hybrid office, where employees work a few days during the week in the office and the rest from home, is the new normal in the business world. A recent paper from Harvard Business School found that having employees spend one or two days in the office during the week and the rest of the time working from home was the optimum “sweet spot” for maximum productivity.

What that means, though, is that working from home and conducting business via Zoom will be a regular part of office work for the foreseeable future. For those changes to be successful, workers need the proper equipment, and crystal-clear audio is the starting point.

Some companies are providing those tools directly to employees, while others are offering a work-from-home stipend to cover the costs of the equipment they’ll need.

Indeed, perhaps the best form of etiquette around Zoom and other video conferencing platforms is ensuring your audio and video quality is the best it can be!

Consider tools such as the YVC-200 Personal or Work-From-Home Speakerphone from Yamaha Unified Communications, which offers professional-quality audio while connected to your laptop, phone, or tablet. For group settings, there’s Yamaha UC’s YVC-330 Portable USB & Conference Speakerphone. With new SoundCap technology, this speakerphone helps eliminate background noise from noisy working environments.

These are just a few of the Yamaha UC communications and conferencing solutions designed to smooth the transition into the new business world. For additional advice on outfitting your workplace, reach out to one of our experts.