Video calls hygiene. How to deal with sudden pets and family members?
Opinov8 Tips
14 May 2021
Video calls hygiene. How to deal with sudden pets and family members?
Opinov8 Tips
14 May 2021

Given the global situation, remote work has become the new norm for all of us. More employees are working from home, more meetings are conducted online. As the corporate world shifts and evolves, video calls become a widespread practice, but it requires a certain level of etiquette to make every meeting more effective and professional.

In the new issue of Opinov8 Tips, we are going to talk with Ekaterina — the Opinov8 Branch Manager in Belarus. Ekaterina regularly hosts clients and candidates' meetings via online platforms, and today she will share with us some practical Tips on Video call hygiene. You will find out how to deal with pets, babies, and family members suddenly appearing in the background and how to create a professional personal brand when you are "meeting" someone virtually.

Ekaterina, Branch Manager

  • 13 year in IT, worked for major outsourcing and product companies all around the world (Russia, Sweden, Great Britain)
  • Copywriting, Recruiting, HR, Business Partnership, Account management background
  • Mommy of 2 plus a cat 😊

I am happy to be the owner of all the triggers that we mentioned in the article's title. I have wonderful children (a boy and a girl), my beloved husband, and an old cat that walks by itself. Triple combo! 😅 

I have been working from home for about 10 years now, with small breaks working from the office. Anyone who works from home (or at least tries) knows that children or pets tend to demand food, water, attention, and all this kind of stuff at the MOST inopportune moment. 🙄 Moreover, they are so persistent that your caller will certainly decide that they have not been fed for at least a week, and it is the right time to call the guardianship service, PETA, or Greta Thunberg personally. 😂 As to spouses, they are a bit calmer, but they can show up in the background with their unexpected appearance or break in during an important call with some intimate question.

How to organize work from home to avoid such embarrassment as much as possible?

1. Divide and rule. 

Try to organize your schedule, so you're not overlapping with your household schedule (as much as possible). If your children come home from school at 1 pm, it is unwise to set up meetings that require 100% concentration during this time, for example.

2.  You're in control.

Another great way to minimize distractions is by preemptively distracting them. Before an important meeting, feed your children and pets, and find them something to do. Some distractions, like TV or video games, are likely to keep kids occupied, but "fun activities" such as these are typically unproductive. Also, it’s possible to keep kids occupied with more productive work, such as homework.

Therefore, the most effective way to calm an animal is to feed it right away. 😉  Cats are busy licking themselves right after eating, and then they get tired and sleep. 

3. Be specific.

Several short periods of silence are easier to ensure than "keeping quiet because mom is working". Every time, warn your family: “I have a meeting that will start at a certain time and last about an hour”. It will be easier for them to understand the boundaries of the “silent mode”. 🤐

Also, you can set a silent timer for them, it will even keep the kids entertained.

4. Use a headset. 

The advice is important, no matter how many people around you. Believe me, the headset significantly outperforms laptop speakers in the function of external noise canceling, and a microphone located closer will make your speech more intelligible and louder.

This is especially important when making calls with native speakers and non-native speakers with different accents. This is simple respect for the interlocutors, making it easier to understand without having to repeat the sentence every time.

5. Silence is gold. 

This is a hackneyed piece of advice, but it has already saved dozens of business reputations. 😊 Always put yourself on the mute if you are not currently speaking. Background noise is common on conference calls, it can be distracting. Even if it is quiet around, your breathing, coughing, and other sounds are distracting. If you unexpectedly receive a “question from the audience” from your family, you will not have to apologize for it to your interlocutors.

It's also helpful to remember at the reflex level where the microphone and camera buttons are ready to turn them off in a second if something happens. Also, use the background blur function if necessary. 😊

6. We are all humans. 

If something is already happening, you do not need to heroically endure and pretend that you do not notice it. Apologize and ask for a couple of minutes to sort out your “issues”. This is perceived as completely normal and much more adequate than completely ignoring the furry cat face in full-screen mode. 😊

7. Be remote.

Laptops have given us mobility, but try not to work in places where all family members can interact. For example, sitting in the kitchen nearby the refrigerator is not a good idea, or if you sit in the only bathroom, I think you should not be surprised that the closed-door will periodically break. 😁 At the same time, a private location does not mean safe from the point of view of non-interference.

If possible choose a far corner, even if it's not very convenient there. 🙃

8. Cultivate an understanding

It doesn't have an immediate effect, but it works 100%. Sure, it looks like the advice given by an English gardener on how to achieve the perfect lawn: “Plant and care for 300 years, but…” 😂

It all starts small. 

Explain constantly that mom/dad is at home, but they are working. Give a visual confirmation of your "arrival" from work — sit on the sofa, this is not so. At least say loudly: "Well, here I am at home!", closing the lid of the laptop! Teach them to respect your work and respect their boundaries in the same way. For example, I never enter the kids’ room without giving a knock, and if I see my husband using headphones, I will first text him in the messenger instead of asking loudly. 

The most important tip is to tell your family what you are busy with so that all above doesn't seem like a ridiculous requirement. Although... the cat perhaps won’t care. 😂

Bonus tip.

If all of the above doesn't work, there is only one win-win remedy — сall your grandmother!⚡️ Or go to a coworking space, especially since a company in Belarus pays for a place in a modern location for all employees if they wish. 😉


If you wanna join our super-friendly Opinov8 team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com 

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#BEBOLD #BEHUMAN

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