New research has revealed that around one-quarter (23 per cent) of Aussies in the workforce have made, or seen, embarrassing or unprofessional behaviours in work video meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Far from being a negative, 56 per cent say the video meetings have helped them to get to know their colleagues better.
The findings come from a survey of an independent, nationally representative panel of 1000 Australian employees who have been working from home – full-time or part-time – during the pandemic, commissioned by online finance information platform Money.com.au. The full survey results, including across age and organisation size, can be found here.
The survey also revealed that more men (26 per cent) made, or observed, embarrassing mishaps in video meetings, compared with 21 per cent of women.
Respondents were presented with 10 potentially embarrassing incidents, mishaps, or unprofessional behaviours that they may have encountered during remote video meetings, and were asked to select any which they experienced.
Forty-two (42) per cent said they have heard kids in the background, 31 per cent saw a participant eating or drinking and 27 per cent saw participants doing non-work-related tasks during a meeting. An equal 26 per cent had the meeting disrupted by a participant’s family member, or a participant not able to use the technology properly, and 21 per cent saw others in the meeting use their PC or phone.
The silver lining is that video meeting technologies have helped workers feel more connected to their colleagues. In fact, Money.com.au found that more than half (56 per cent) of respondents learned more about their work colleagues by seeing and speaking to them in their home environments. A higher proportion of younger respondents also felt this: 66 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 30 admitted they got to know their colleagues better through video meetings, compared with 58 per cent of 31-50s and 46 per cent of over-50s.
Helen Baker, licensed financial advisor and spokesperson at Money.com.au, says: “The process of transitioning the ‘office’ online and into our own homes has led to some new, and rather hilarious, office faux pas. Already, this is increasing acceptance of more informal ways of presenting in meetings in many organisations: it’s becoming okay, for instance, for kids to sit on their parent’s lap during a video meeting, or for colleagues to be in their loungewear.
“I believe the past few months have proved to many of us just how powerful and productive video teleconferencing technologies can be for enabling collaborative work, and making employees feel connected to their colleagues, teams and managers, particularly in this current climate. As workers become increasingly dispersed, especially if remote working becomes the norm, video meeting platforms that keep everyone connected and engaged are more crucial than ever.”
The 12 most unusual video meeting ‘bloopers’ Aussie workers have seen
The survey also uncovered some of the most unusual video meeting ‘bloopers’ Aussie workers – or their colleagues – made or witnessed, including:
1. Being on mute for the entire duration of the call – even when speaking
2. An employee forgetting to put their microphone on mute when yelling at their kids to be quiet
3. A colleague’s wife interrupting their video meeting, because she needed him to open a pickle jar
4. Hearing the toilet of a colleague flush (cited by several employees)
5. A pet seats themselves on their owner’s lap, or walks into the room and starts making noise, interrupting the meeting (cited by employees at least 20 times)
6. An employee picking their nose when they thought their camera was off (cited at least six times)
7. An employee breaking wind when they thought they were on mute (cited by several employees)
8. Someone’s colleague thought his video camera was turned off, and he completely left the meeting to grab lunch and didn’t return
9. Wearing pyjama pants and standing up during a video call
10. A colleague’s elderly father wandering past in the background in his underpants – and another colleague’s husband doing the same thing, but in a towel
11. A colleague’s young daughter interrupting the video meeting to show everyone on the meeting her drawing
12. An employee reported having an UBER Eats delivery arrive, while they were presenting to an audience of 60 people on Skype.
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