Zoom meeting etiquette: 10 ways to boost employee professionalism on video calls

In today’s work from home era, Zoom meetings have replaced in-person meetings with colleagues, coworkers, and clients. While most employees understand office etiquette, Zoom meeting etiquette has been uncharted territory for many.

We’ve all been on those Zoom calls where someone was walking around doing chores or lying in bed. Every once in a while you even hear about the guy who stands up and accidentally shows everyone what kind of boxers he’s wearing that day.

We know it can be a hard topic to approach with employees because so many of us have little experience working virtually. Employees forget, they are still representatives of their company, even on a video call, and they still need to demonstrate the professionalism and courtesy that they do when they’re actually in the office.

Employers and company leaders are in a unique position as well. It can feel a bit strange to have to re-educate your employees on how to act, but this is new territory for many. If employees are behaving unprofessionally on Zoom calls, they probably don’t even realize it.

Don’t just assume your employees understand how to behave on a video call. Find time to speak with staff about Zoom meeting etiquette. Be clear about what a virtual work environment means to your company. Set expectations about how employees should act and what type of behavior is inappropriate on a video conference call.

So without further ado, here are 10 topics to discuss with employees to reduce distractions, boost professionalism, and make your Zoom meetings more productive.

1. Know your audience

Your employees need to understand that their Zoom call with the CEO or a valuable client is not a virtual poker game with their friends. Employers should encourage their team members to remember who they’re speaking to on the Zoom call and treat them with the respect they would in person. 

2. Be engaged (and engaging)

We’ve all seen that person on the other side of the computer screen looking down, with their phone screen reflecting in their glasses. Nothing looks worse to others on a Zoom call then an employee clearly not paying attention. Leaders should remind employees just how powerful their body language can be. Eye contact and head nodding are two simple ways to show others, “I’m paying attention.”

3. Encourage a professional setup

No one wants to see your treadmill and sweaty towel behind you during your call. Encourage your employees to set up a dedicated, professional workspace in their home. If this is not possible, point them to Zoom’s handy virtual backgrounds

4. Behave as if you were there in-person

Zoom meetings are replacing in-person meetings, but employees should treat them the same. Remind your employees that their virtual call with a client is taken just as seriously as their in-person meetings. Their behavior will have just as big an impact.

5. Be early and ready to go

You wouldn’t allow your employees to roll in 5 minutes late to an in-person meeting, so this shouldn’t fly in Zoom meetings either. Employees should log in early, test their connections, and make sure their camera and audio are working properly before the start of the call. 

6. Remove all distractions

Many employees are working with kids in the house and dogs running around. Sometimes this can’t be helped, but encouraging your team members to remove distractions like a loudly ringing cell phone or TV in the background will make them look significantly more professional, than if there are constant distractions going on behind them. 

7. Check your outfit and look presentable

Setting a virtual dress code is probably a good idea. Not only does looking presentable reflect well on the company, but it can help employees feel more like they are “at work”. In terms of video, wearing a busy shirt during a Zoom call is distracting and not a good look. At the same time, wearing a color that blends into your virtual background can make you look like a “dancing head.” Remind employees that their outfit choices affect how others think of them. And just like in real life, it can leave a positive or negative impression.

8. Light up

Sitting directly in front of a bright light can make your face look downright scary. On the flip side, backlighting yourself or sitting in a dark room will not allow colleagues to see your face at all. Sitting in a well lit room, with some soft light behind or next to your computer will give your face that natural, presentable glow.

9. Make extensive use of the “mute” button

I can’t stress this one enough…make it company policy to mute yourself when you’re not talking! There is nothing more frustrating than the sound of doors shutting, dogs barking, , lawn mowers roaring, and people talking in the background during someone’s presentation. A helpful way to remind employees to use that helpful mute button is to simply ask everyone to mute themselves right at the beginning of the call. 

10. Don’t Zoom and drive!

I imagine you’ve been on a call with someone while they were driving. Not only is it unprofessional, but it’s downright dangerous. If you take anything away from this list, it should be this! Don’t Zoom and drive, and don’t permit your employees to do so either!

How a strategic HR consultant can help

The work from home era has brought about new Zoom meeting etiquette challenges in our virtual workspaces. If you have questions about a specific or recurring problem with employees on your video calls we’re here to help, let’s talk about it.

If you feel like your organization needs help addressing Zoom meeting etiquette, or you just want a professional opinion, schedule a complimentary consultation!

For more information contact Kerry Flynn Barrett

Flynn Barrett Consulting, LLC




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