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Digital Etiquette?

Jul 9, 2023 | Conscious Communication, Daily Trek

digital etiquette - radical trekking - ayelet Baron

Digital etiquette is trending but isn’t it simply putting more lipstick on a bulldog? Why can’t we simply focus on how important communication is and not lead with structure all the time?

Remember the good old conference calls? We’d grab a chair, nestle a phone against our shoulder, and doodle. Now, 53 years after the first video call, our bedrooms are the new boardrooms.

A company named Jugo claims we’re a bunch of virtual miscreants. We supposedly need their “Virtual Meeting Etiquette 101.” They suggest ditching doodles for decorum.

We keep creating norms for professionalism. Isn’t it obvious that sleeping in meetings is not part of a job? Maybe not. Their survey says 9% of us have slept in virtual meetings. Some of us have even gone for walks (6%), squeezed in a quick workout (25%), or multitasked … creatively (2%).

More than a third (34.2%) find it challenging to pay attention if co-workers are distracted rather than giving their full attention. Some behaviors of virtual participants reveal a dramatic lack of engagement during a meeting:

  • 68% have texted friends
  • 6% have gone for a walk
  • 25% have worked out
  • 9% have slept
  • 2% have had sex

We aren’t just dozing and exercising, though. Less than half of us shower or shave before a meeting. A shocking 39% don’t even bother to style our hair. But isn’t having meaningful dialogue more important than appearance in a meeting?

What’s more, we join these meetings from strange places. Some of us join from the bathroom (4%), gas stations (2%), or gyms (3%). Still, the worst offense is failing to mute during background noise. That’s more annoying than a dog barking or a baby crying apparently.

Jugo has joined forces with etiquette expert Elaine Swann. They’ve formulated a guide for our virtual behavior. Swann says clear standards are needed to ensure employees represent themselves and their companies properly.

But this just keeps us trapped in structure and all these rules keep us trapped from getting to our actual work. And, isn’t it common sense that meetings are for sharing information, making decisions, and creating together?

Still, it seems we’re moving towards a future with a digital etiquette guide. It may soon join our quarterly reports and annual assessments. This is because we can’t behave on video calls because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Who is researching and questioning why so many people are so checked out of meetings in the first place? Why are we not asking questions that actually matter to our business?

If you need me, I’ll be in my sweatpants, practicing perfect eye contact. But seriously, what if respect and kindness were just how we flow when we practice radical honesty and open, two way communication in meaningful ways?

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