Oh, s**t! I thought I was on mute!

Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash

Working remotely is new territory for most Scrum teams, yet many of us find ourselves navigating that terrain today. While useful for providing entertainment value, building habits to help reduce embarrassing situations keeps your meetings on topic and helps your team stay focused.

“Safety” Habits for Video Conferencing and Instant Messaging

Scrum team members working remotely use video conferencing as a standard communication tool. Used for Daily Scrums and other Scrum events, especially, video conference helps teams feel connected and engaged at the team level.

  1. Put tape over your camera. If you’re anything like me, working remote means not “dressing” for work. Yep, there are days I roll out of bed and head straight to the computer — makeup-free and hair all over the place. Put tape or a sticky note over your camera to avoid showing off your bed-head.
  2. Use a background image for your video. Some video conference tools allow the user to add a custom background to your video image, showing only you and not your surroundings. If you’re working in a messy area or are worried about someone seeing your bra or tighty whiteys hanging from the ceiling fan, use a background image. Plus, it’s kind of fun to put yourself in a different environment with a cool background!
  3. Stay on mute. It happens. The dog starts barking or the baby cries. Then the lawnmower runs by your window. Or worse, you think you’re on mute and something, um… inappropriate comes flying out of your mouth. Staying on mute saves you from these potentially embarrassing situations. It also helps reduce background noise and helps everyone hear the conversation more clearly.
  4. Use “Do Not Disturb” when presenting. Ok, I’m going to fess up here. I’ve been known, occasionally, to send snarky, sarcastic, or generally inappropriate messages to friends and co-workers online. I have also received similar comments from those individuals. No problem as long as it stays private. But there’s nothing worse than getting a message alert containing questionable content when you’re presenting to a group. Oops!
  5. Double-check the recipient of your messages. I don’t know about you, but I’m flipping between instant message windows all day. Sometimes, the right message gets sent to the wrong person. Related to the suggestion above, if you’re sending a questionable message, double-check that you’re in the correct message window. Even an innocent comment has the potential to be misinterpreted if sent to the wrong person. And if you accidentally message a group chat — oye, that can be a real mess to clean up!

I’ve worked most of my career remotely, so I’m speaking from experience. I’ve embarrassed myself in each and every one of those situations at least once.

We should enjoy our remote time, have fun with our colleagues, and joke around like normal. Just be aware, if you’re not careful with video conferencing and instant messaging, you can bring some unintended humor to your team.

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