HYDERABAD: Remember that BBC video in which a professor is giving an interview from his home office and a toddler barges in? Seconds later, a baby-on-wheels also enters the frame and the two whine away as their mom or nanny whisk them out of the room. The professor looked so embarrassed. This was way back in 2017 when there was no pandemic and WFH was not a thing. The video had left netizens in splits.
Cut to three years later and the clip resurfaced. Now, we can all sympathise with the professor. It’s over a year now since we’ve been working from home and attending meetings on Zoom, Google Duo and WhatsApp Video. From pets walking into a meeting to employees appearing shirtless on screen, our social media feed has been buzzing with such hilarious viral videos and we can totally relate to them. Let’s admit, we’ve had our own share of embarrassing moments, after which we wanted to dig a hole and hide.
Figuring out how to use these apps is a no-brainer but we just needed the time, and still do, to get used to this virtual mode of communication.
For instance, S Sanvi, a resident of Hyderabad who works at JP Morgan, had her foot in her mouth when she forgot to mute her audio during an office meeting. “I was having an intimate conversation with my husband and forgot to mute the audio. It was so embarrassing. I am very careful now,” the analyst says.
In another slip, Sathvik Reddy, a lecturer at a junior college, recollects this time when one of the students, during an online class, was watching porn and forgot to turn off the audio. The moaning and groaning landed him in some serious trouble. “There was another episode wherein a student was shirtless on camera,” he says.
This one is just too much. Sujith Kumar, who works at HSBC’s back office, has the habit of taking his phone to the washroom. Though his work tab was minimised, the camera was rolling. The rest is history! Sujith is yet to get over this.
Picture this: you’ve taken the trouble to set up your home-office, adjusted the lighting for your back-to-back video conferences and made sure the background is picture-perfect. You are neckdeep in work and engrossed in a call; your husband appears from nowhere and that too in a towel. All you can pray for is to not have a Saawariya moment.
That’s exactly what happened to Dr Shraddha, who works for a pharmaceutical giant in the city. “There’s a wardrobe in the room and my husband was getting dressed. All of a sudden he appears on my screen in a towel!” But, abhi picture baaki hai. “The worst part was, as I asked him to move away, his towel dropped. I just buried my face in my palms for a few minutes,” she says.
Lessons in etiquette
While these WFH disasters are just too funny, they can be avoided. Dilip Malla, a city-based personality coach, and professional etiquette trainer, says, “No matter how careful people are, embarrassing moments are inevitable in a home setup.
"I often suggest that people should make a workspace without disturbance. They can also try setting up their workstation against a blank wall to avoid any distractions in the video.” Now that you are all caught up, the next time you are on a video call and have to tend to ‘personal stuff ’ , please double check, in fact triple check, if your camera is switched off and your audio is muted.
Save yourself the embarrassment
- Ensure proper lighting, use artificial light. You can use a table lamp, which throws light on the face, so that you appear clearly on video
- Choose a neutral background. Backgrounds can be distracting at times, so set up your workstation with a plain wall in the background
- Look your best. Your attire speaks tonnes about your personality
- Eliminate distractions. Shut all doors and windows to minimise background noise
- Keep a pen and paper handy to jot down quick notes, it saves you time and makes you look organised
- Maintain eye contact. May it be an in-person or virtual meeting, always make eye contact to reflect confidence and attentiveness
- Paste a sticky note on your desk as a reminder to turn off the webcam and audio whenever you take a break