Working from home is nothing new and many people have been doing it for years. However, in 2020 a lot more people needed to get used to the technology that enables working from home to work smoothly, especially among workers who are used to functioning with one another collaboratively. If anything, 2020 might go down in history as the year of “I think you are on mute”. Of course, the great uptake in working from home around the world didn’t just present a technological challenge that only dedicated software to this way of working can solve – it also meant that people needed to work out an entirely new etiquette.
Why? Well, working in the office generally means wearing appropriate attire and the avoidance of distractions, such as kids running around, pets getting in the way or people trying to make deliveries at the front door. In 2020, we have all had to learn a lot about how to handle the social and professional sides of working from home. However, it has not always been plain sailing. Read on to discover some of the hilarious moments that 2020 has thrown up when – how can we put this? – things haven’t exactly gone to plan…
1. The Potato-Headed Boss
During an online meeting at an American not-for-profit organisation, co-workers were listening to the comments made by their manager and taking careful note of everything she had to say. Unexpectedly, she managed to alter the video setting of the conference call and her image appeared as a potato-headed character buried beneath the ground. Unfortunately for her, she was not able to change the setting back so had to continue with this ridiculous picture in full view of her whole team. Thankfully for future historians interested in what 2020 was like, her team captured the moment and shared it online for all to see.
2. The Woman Who Was Told to Zip It!
Talking over colleagues has been a big problem with some software platforms because of the delays that occur, especially when there are lots of people in the virtual meeting. So, it isn’t unusual for whoever is chairing the meeting to invite people to take turns with their contributions. One woman, however, was told rather brusquely to ‘zip it!’ during her conference call with colleagues. She did, leaving a void in the meeting. It turned out that the person who had instructed her to be quiet was actually talking to her child and had forgotten to hit the mute button – a fine example of how interesting life can get when work and families have to operate in close proximity to one another!
3. The Self-Notification Office Worker
Working from home can mean hours of being on your own. That has positives as well as negatives, of course, including the possibility that you might end up chatting to yourself to pass the time. In the connected world, the equivalent of this phenomenon is self-notification, such as when one lady decided to email her entire team. She cc’d herself so that she would have a record of what she had sent and who it had been sent to. Immediately afterwards, an email dropped into her inbox which she excitedly opened to see what it was all about only to discover it was the one she had just sent. Luckily, she took to Twitter to point out her silliness with a good degree of humour and the trending #wfhfail hashtag to the merriment of many.
4. The Cheesy Office Meeting
We all know that co-worker who likes to make cheesy jokes. Although these can bring a smile to your face, they can also be grating at times (sorry about the pun). Nevertheless, cheesy humour was taken to a whole new level by one office worker back in March. Lindsay Burton took to social media to say that she had just looked in the mirror only to find a lump of cheese on her cheek that had apparently been there since her breakfast. Under normal circumstances, she pointed out, this would not have been a big deal. Only, she had just finished an hour-long video conference call and no one had had the guts to point it out.
5. The Kid Who Wanted to Redecorate
During a live interview on the BBC, an assistant professor who specialises in global health policy at the London School of Economics, was interrupted by her own daughter. She had crept into her mother’s office behind her and, as the interview continued, managed to steal the show completely. The girl had apparently decided that the background to the interview was plain-looking and would be brightened up by a picture of a unicorn. When she couldn’t decide the best place for it, the youngster asked the interviewer who duly responded that the image was lovely and looked best on the lower shelf!
6. The Underdressed Expert
TV interviews always have the possibility of something going wrong. However, working from home while being interviewed means that producers have even less control. A great case in point came about in April when anchors at the US network ABC was interviewing one of their own correspondents, Will Reeve. All appeared to be normal as he responded to questions facing his webcam. However, when he moved back from his desk a little, viewers could plainly see that the smartly dressed journalist wasn’t wearing any trousers. Thankfully, he was sporting a pair of shorts, however!
7. The Bring Your Pet to Work Day
There have been plenty of funny moments in 2020 that have involved pets. Sometimes people have shared pictures of themselves trying to access their computer while a dog lies on their lap or refuses to move from the office chair. In other cases, pets have been found wandering over keyboards creating mayhem as they go. One of the best examples of pets getting in on the action when working from home was when a cat managed to turn on a webcam during a video conference and everyone on it was greeted by a feline face in close up. Well, they think they rule the world already, don’t they?