Remote Meetings: The Most Annoying Behaviors And Phrases

From multitasking (badly) to relaxing a little too much on camera, try to avoid these virtual meeting faux pas.
  • A recent survey found that people are getting irritated by virtual meetings for a number of reasons.
  • Poor internet connections and people struggling to dial in have led to some of the most common and annoying phrases in conference call lingo.
  • From “You’re on mute” to “I need to jump on another call”, here are 10 of the current online meeting pet peeves.

Surveys throughout the years have found that meetings aren’t among workers’ favorite activities, and for good reason. 

Many believe that meetings are oftentimes a waste of time and unproductive. Plenty of workers have also reported that they tend to multitask during meetings. 

This was true for in-person meetings and now it is also true for remote meetings. In fact, workers now have a few new reasons to dislike meetings: Zoom fatigue and choppy internet, among other things. 

The State of Remote Meetings: Awkward and Annoying

A recent survey from Easy Offices found that “poor internet connections, problems with screen-sharing and people struggling to dial in have led to some of the most common and annoying phrases in conference call lingo.”

With most people working from home, meeting etiquette has relaxed a bit, from attire to expected behaviors.

The survey found that many workers “admit to witnessing some of our colleagues act a little too ‘at home’ on a business call, whether they mean to or not.”

And that last phrase “whether they mean to or not” is key in the situation. 

In some cases, these ‘at home’ behaviors are perfectly normal and acceptable, like family interruptions. In others though, it seems like the situation was mostly caused by someone forgetting they were in a meeting in the first place, or at least forgetting their microphone or video were turned on. 

Easy Offices found that 17% of people have witnessed someone engage in a bad habit on a conference call. Some of the most cited behaviors include:

  • Picking one’s nose
  • Farting
  • Belching
  • People arguing with others at home
  • Seeing someone partially or fully naked (the one big downside to being able to go to meetings wearing boxers and a dress shirt).
  • Hearing someone say something inappropriate.

You’d think that 8 months into lockdown and working from home, people would be warming up to online meetings and using the camera. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. 

Who knows, maybe some of the above behaviors have only made people dislike turning on their cameras even more? 

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The survey found that workers are happier during meetings when they’re not on camera. 

53% of workers would still prefer to have their cameras off during calls, with 41% saying the camera makes them feel uncomfortable. This can be an issue, as 36% of workers reported that their organization pressures them to have their cameras on while on meetings. 

From Awkward to Rude Behaviors

The survey found that online meetings have potentially given rise to rude behavior. “Odd online activities are one thing, but many of us also admit to witnessing behaviours that are simply offensive.”

For example, 38% of workers in the IT industry stated that colleagues had made a derogatory comment to them regarding their appearance or surroundings… no wonder people don’t want to turn their cameras on. 

Interestingly, the survey found that age was a factor in whether or not people were on the receiving end of rude comments, with 31% of 25-34 year olds stating colleagues had made derogatory comments at them, compared to 11% of 45-54 year olds and just 6% of 55+ year olds.

“It’s hard to imagine someone would leave a meeting room during an in-person meeting, but this is exactly what happens on conference calls.”

Another new online meeting staple seems to be digital walkouts. 

Whether people excuse themselves or simply close out the window, many workers reported that it’s quite common for people to make a swift exit from an online meeting. 

Whether you excuse yourself politely or simply close the conference call window without saying a word, the fact is it’s far easier to make a swift exit from an online meeting, and people are taking advantage of that. 

The Top 10 Most Annoying Phrases Used in Online Meetings

  1. “I need to jump on another call”
  2. “You’re on mute”
  3. “We lost you for a minute there”
  4. “Do we have everyone here?”
  5. “Can you see my screen”
  6. “Can everyone mute themselves please”
  7. “Let’s take this offline”
  8. “Conscious there’s only X minutes left”
  9. “I’m getting really bad feedback”
  10. “I’ve got a hard stop at X o’clock”. 

A New Kind of Meeting Etiquette

Meeting etiquette has changed because our meeting formats have changed. But that doesn’t mean that all etiquette should be thrown out the window. 

While it takes time to get used to new practices, the reality is that organizations would benefit from having clear guidelines and policies of expected behavior during online meetings. 

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