Issue #1: Background distractions
“There have been stories of partners in the background with very little clothing on and I have a meeting with a cat most weeks,” reveals Ruth Abraham, HR Consultant at HeadsTogether. “But can you imagine sitting in a real boardroom with your CEO and a cat walking across the table?”
Our expectations of online are not what they were two years ago. “We were in a world where we were making do and surviving because we’d no other choice when all this came in”, explains Abraham. “But if this is something we’re holding on to because we think there are real benefits, then we need to start taking it seriously and making it work in a professional way, because ‘making do’ just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
“Someone might say ‘oh well it’s only my cat walking across my screen’, but the reality is that in that moment, no-one on the call is taking in any information, because they’re all looking at the cat”.
You need to move away from thinking that it’s sufficient to just send a standard Zoom invitation that includes the time and pin number for the meeting. “You need to be putting two or three lines at the top of the invitation clearly outlining whether it’s a casual meeting or a business professional meeting, and the expectations around that,” reveals Abraham. “Cats and dogs might be acceptable to some in a brainstorming session with colleagues, but if you’re in a board meeting, it’s not ok. If you’re chairing that level of meeting remotely, then you need to make sure everyone understands they must be in an environment where there are no distractions.”