Video calling has never been so popular. Microsoft said that video calls on Teams were up 1,000% in the month of March. It also set a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in one day – that’s a lot of remote meetings! In the last two months the company has added 31 million more users to its collaborative platform, which equates to a 70 percent uptick in traffic.
Microsoft looked at countries with the most active Teams users. Brits use video 47 percent of the time. But it’s not just Teams that is adding users at the rate of knots. According to App Annie, Zoom was one of the ten most-downloaded apps around the world in March 2020 and Google’s Meet app saw a 30 times increase in downloads, compared to pre-pandemic levels.
As we increasingly switch to virtual communication, we thought it would be an opportune time to examine the social nuances and etiquette expectations that come to the fore when we speak to customers and colleagues online. Having discussed some ideas together during our virtual watercooler meetings, and then more honestly after some wine in our weekly entertainment sessions, we have collated the following suggestions – feel free to add your own!
- Turn on your video: This is the biggest bugbear – many people prefer to keep the camera off, but that can make colleagues feel like they aren’t fully engaging with them. Seeing each other and sharing eye contact and a smile can make a huge difference to help us feel more connected. Keep that camera on.
- Limit background noise: Sometimes it better to be seen but not heard… When you aren’t talking it’s advisable to hit the mute switch. Background noise can be very distracting, so it’s always best to be considerate.
- Talk clearly: We’ve all been on a call with someone we cannot hear, and it makes for an incredibly awkward exchange. Make sure you are close to your speaker and that you enunciate your words clearly. If someone does make a comment that they cannot hear you, make sure you have fully addressed it and check that they can hear you before carrying on talking.
- Keep it smart: Staying at home does not mean staying in your pyjamas! Boohoo has just reported a huge increase in the sale of tops during the lockdown for people who are focused on making their ‘top half’ look smart. Make sure you look presentable (even if you are rocking a pair of joggers on the bottom half!)
- Keep others out of shot: This is a funny one. Many people say that when they see kids or pets enter the shot that everyone makes lots of ‘ahhhh’ noises, which lulls the person into a false sense of confidence that no one really minds. The reverse is true. An occasional mishap is fine but trying to talk to someone who is clearly distracted was one of the top video annoyances…. So put the cat down….
- Be respectful to others: When you are on a long call and you are only speaking for a short while, it can be tempting to switch off and start playing on your mobile phone. But people know when you aren’t fully listening, so do try and make an effort to ask questions to show interest. If you are running the call, then it’s important to respect people’s time. Many people are hopping from one call to another, so where possible do try and finish calls five minutes early to enable colleagues to have a toilet break or make a quick cup of coffee.