How to Address Inappropriate Video Call Behaviour in the Remote Workplace

  • HR Policies
How to Address Inappropriate Video Call Behaviour in the Remote Workplace
Kiljon Shukullari

Kiljon Shukullari, HR Advisory Manager

(Last updated )

Though not so widespread before the pandemic, video conferencing is now the primary means of communication in the remote workplace. It’s how we’ve all managed to stay connected with co-workers, family, and friends during the past year-and-a-half.

But despite the quick and successful transition to video conferencing, virtual meeting etiquette is still a grey area. It is recommended that you speak to your employees and set down some ground rules to ensure everybody behaves in a professional manner while on a video call.

What are some good practices to follow during a video call?

Most basic etiquettes that apply to in-person meetings also apply to virtual ones – be punctual, put your phone on silent, be courteous, don’t interrupt or talk over others.

It may be useful to remind your employees to:

  • Be on mute when not speaking. This will ensure no background noise from your end, such as doors being shut, people talking, your dog barking, or your kids playing, disturbs the meeting. Use the ‘Raise hand’ feature when you need to speak.
  • Create a clean and quiet work corner in their house where they wouldn’t be disturbed by family members or house mates.
  • Look presentable on camera. Setting down a virtual dress code may be a good idea.
  • Ensure their background is clean, well-lit, and free of distractions. If that is not possible, advise your staff to use virtual background options available on video conferencing apps.
  • Not eat or smoke while on camera. Employers and managers should also try and not schedule meetings over the lunch hour.
  • Pay attention and look into the camera when they speak. Have the camera set at  eye level. Looking away, slouching, checking their phone or emails while someone is speaking during a meeting is rude. Would they do so during an in-person meeting?

Other unacceptable behaviours include:

  • Jokes, snarky comments, gossiping during a meeting (or in the chat box) about a co-worker.
  • Harassing or bullying a co-worker or having what should be a private conversation (for instance, a manager disciplining a tardy employee) in a group meeting.

How do I address inappropriate video call behaviour?

Video meetings are a relatively new addition to our work lives. Disruptions due to poor etiquette may not be intentional. To ensure your virtual meetings are courteous and productive, you should:

  • Create relevant policies that set down protocols for the virtual workplace. For instance, policies establishing a virtual workplace dress code, banning drinking, or smoking during the meetings or recording it or taking screenshots without the consent of all the attendees.
  • Update your employee handbook with new remote work policies and share them with your staff.
  • Remind staff that the company policies on bullying and harassment apply to the virtual workplace as well. Also, remind employees, especially new staff, of the procedure for reporting inappropriate conduct.
  • Address any concerns that arise in private. If an employee’s thoughtless behaviour is consistently disturbing the meetings, have a one-on-one chat with them. Your goal is to fix the issue, not embarrass the employee.
  • Be clear about the offending behaviour or habit and how it affects the team. Don’t be vague or make personal remarks. Give specific examples of instances when the employee was late or poorly dressed. Staying objective will make the employee more receptive to your feedback.
  • Ask your employees if they need further support. Encourage them to speak to you if they have any questions about virtual workplace protocols or any concerns.

Do you need help creating a remote work policy?

At Peninsula Canada, we specialize in everything HR and health & safety. Whether you want expert advice on creating policies for the remote workplace or have any other HR questions, we’re here to support you. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation.

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