Mind Your Virtual Manners

Initially, this tech tip was supposed to about technical issues related to working from home or distance learning. But when I consulted with an expert who manages distance learning for college students about the issues faced in her job, I was surprised to find that the number one problem is etiquette.

It turns out that people just don’t know how to behave online. She said, “Honestly, we’re having the most issues with tech etiquette.”

Watch the noise level

That can mean basics like muting your microphone when you aren’t talking or making sure there’s not music or a moving blaring in the background when folks are attempting to listen to what you have to say.

That can also mean not munching away on a crunchy snack into a microphone or talking with your mouth full of food into a webcam.

Focus on the task at hand

Other people can’t seem to keep their minds on the class or meeting. They’ll get up and wonder around taking care of household chores and taking everyone in the class or meeting along with them.

You wouldn’t get up and walk around in the middle of an in-person class or staff meeting, (at least I hope you wouldn’t) don’t do it virtually.

One source even reported a coworker who started a meeting in bed, then got up and took everyone into the bathroom with him for a shower. Fortunately, he pointed the phone’s camera away from the actual shower.

Shirts and shoes required

Which leads to another request from the professionals, “Put a damned shirt on.”

A surprising number of people seem to think meetings and classes are clothing-optional. People try to conduct business or class from their bed wearing only their blankets. Some even log on with a friend still under the covers with them. Just don’t.


And appropriate attire is a must. That funny t-shirt you like to sleep in is not appropriate for the class room or the board room.

Bottom line is: If you wouldn’t do it in an in-person class or work meeting, don’t do it virtually.

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