6 Ways You're Driving Your Remote Coworkers Crazy…
And 7 Things They Don't Actually Care About At All
I've been working fully remotely for a little over four years now at two very different companies, both with very strong remote cultures. As a Community Manager, I interact with a plethora of remote employees on a day-to-day basis, many of whom come to me with their frustrations about their coworkers, or just remote work in general.
Hearing their frustrations, I've discovered that I agree with absolutely everything that they've said… the funny thing is, when I first started working remotely, these weren't the kinds of things that I was worried about.
Back then, I was always concerned with how I looked on camera, and whether my home-office looked more like a home or an office. I've come to realize that people couldn't care less about these things, but there are other remote-work faux pas that legitimately drive people crazy.
So for those of you new to remote work or hoping to make the switch soon (or for any remote work veterans who just want their frustrations validated), here's a short list of the quickest ways to tick off your remote coworkers, and all the things you're worrying about in vain (because no one actually cares)!
You're driving people crazy when…
- You're the only one not muted on a call. Especially when the speaker has asked everyone to mute multiple times. Be courteous - if you're not the one talking stay muted!
- You're always having technical difficulties. If we can't hear you 4 out of 5 calls a week because your headset is broken, it's probably time to get a new headset.
- You're late! Just because it's online doesn't mean the meeting is less important.
- You blow off meetings. Worse than being late is not showing up at all. If you knew someone was waiting for you in person, would you cancel a meeting 2 minutes beforehand? Probably not. (That said, canceling before the meeting is always preferable to just not showing up.) People need to plan their days - be respectful of their time.
- You're not considerate of others' timezones. If you're working for a fully remote company, odds are you'll be working with people in different timezones. Don't ping them with an urgent request at 3AM their time just because it's 3PM where you are. Send the message, but let them know the response can wait. (Pro Tip: You can click someone's Slack profile to check what timezone they're in!)
- You don't check your colleagues' calendars before scheduling meetings. Especially when working remotely, Google calendars are the equivalent of gold. There's nothing more annoying than an email thread of three people going back and forth saying "this time doesn't work for me, I have a meeting" - it's all right there!
No one cares when…
- You're wearing PJ's. Unless you're wearing full-on footed pajamas with little unicorns, I can guarantee we all just think you're in a nice silk shirt (maybe...)
- Your child or pet hops on camera. Babies and pets are the way to everyone's heart and spice up any boring conference call!
- You're not wearing makeup. Again, we probably have no idea. The screen is so tiny that it's all blurry anyway.
- Your background isn't the perfect office scene. It's called working from home for a reason! No one expects your "office space" to be perfect, plus it gives people a sense of who you are (ie. a knitter who needs another yarn cabinet).
- You're eating your breakfast or lunch. Just don't chew loudly into the microphone (again, mute is your best friend!)
- You shower at midday or do your laundry. These are the perks that make remote work so great! As long as you don't disappear for the whole day or miss meetings (see above), and you're getting your work done, no one minds how you structure your day!
- You silence your notifications. If you're a writer or on sales calls all day, the last thing you need is the sound of an active Slack group pinging in your ear. Just because you're remote, doesn't mean you have to be available all the time! We get it - you have work to do!
So, fellow remote workers, what did we miss? Tweet your remote-work pet peeves to @powertofly.
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
A five-step framework for addressing systematic racism at work
The world has changed in the past few weeks.
We're watching corporations and organizations across the world come out in support of Black lives in droves. Many of those organizations are doing so for the first time in their history.
I sat in front of my CEO to discuss several complaints of racism. I was new to my role as a Culture Director. I was nervous about his reaction to the complaints. But I also knew he strongly supported developing this new department; I knew that he would take the right steps. So I was shocked when I heard him say sheepishly, "I don't know, Noelle...all of this stuff about racism. I just don't see it. I don't even see color. I'm pretty much color blind."
Living in the midst of a pandemic has brought about a whole host of changes and challenges for workplaces and employees. One of the most notable? Virtual interviewing. With most on-site interviews on hold for the foreseeable future, it's important that you be prepared to make a great first impression—virtually.