This is a strange year. Normally, I’d be writing a blog that outlines the perils of the office holiday party. Not this year. It is safe to say that the office holiday party will not take place in 2020. But what will replace it? Zoom holiday parties.
Normally, for a lawyer who represents individuals, the office holiday party is a business bonanza. There is alcohol involved, and people often misbehave. In this time of remote working, it seems like those risks are minimized.
However, new issues arise.
With the widespread participation in video conferences, people still behave badly. Jeffrey Toobin is one example. In another, a school board member had to resign after she took her laptop with her to the bathroom and failed to mute the Zoom link.
In the spirit of the “remote” work year, I’ll share the same advice I would share as if there were in-person office holiday parties.
When you are on Zoom conferences, remember that you are at work. Act accordingly. When lawyers prepare a client for a deposition, we often tell our clients, “there is no such thing as off the record.” And the Zoom conference is just like that. When you are on a Zoom conference, you are not off the record. You are still at the office, and you must act accordingly.
What does that mean:
- Wear appropriate attire. (Yes, that means wearing pants).
- Remember you are on camera and on a microphone.
- Double-check a setting to make sure you have muted your video or your microphone before doing something you would not do while sitting directly across from another person.
- Mind what you say and avoid controversial topics during the conversation.
- Be careful what you say in the Zoom chat. Even if you think you are sending a private chat message, the host can see the entire chat thread.
In this day of social media, what happens on Zoom does not always stay private. It may get shared among your office workers. And it may go viral. You don’t want to be that person. While this is the season to celebrate, just remember there is no such thing as “off the record.” Even if it is a party, you are still at the office. Act accordingly.