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Video conferencing miscues can get you fired

A survey found that miscues during video conferences cost businesses money and got employees fired. Most companies have punished employees for video meeting errors.

Online meeting mistakes, such as missing a call, revealing sensitive data or displaying inappropriate content, have gotten employees disciplined and sometimes fired.

A recent Wakefield Research survey commissioned by collaboration firm Vyopta of 200 executives found that 24% of companies had fired an employee because of an error during a conference call or video meeting on collaboration software. The study further revealed that 83% of executives had seen a worker reprimanded, removed from a project or receive some other punishment for a meeting screwup. Respondents to the survey hold titles of vice president or higher at companies with 500 or more employees.

Companies recognize that errors during Zoom or Teams meetings can cost them money. Thirty-two percent of executives said they lost a client or business opportunity because of video conferencing problems, while 41% said such issues caused them to miss a project deadline.

Executives are unsure whether their employees are tech-savvy enough to use remote collaboration tools correctly. On average, respondents did not trust 33% of their staff to use technology well enough to make remote work successful, according to the survey. Forty-two percent of those polled said it was the employee's responsibility to ensure that the collaboration technology needed for hybrid work is up and running.

Zeus Kerravala, founder of ZK Research, said companies should set expectations for employees using remote collaboration tools. For example, if workers care for children while giving a presentation, they are unlikely to give full attention to either task, Kerravala said.

"If your kids need an education or need to be fed, you need to make that a priority," he said. "But then, when you are working, you need to make that the priority."

Kerravala suggested companies that plan to let employees work at home or in the office as the pandemic wanes might dedicate the funds saved on office amenities to childcare. That would ensure employees have time to pay undivided attention to their work.

More than 70% of respondents expect their companies to either maintain or increase the number of employees allowed to split time between the office and home. This embrace of hybrid work may not be by choice, as companies are having trouble retaining workers. According to a Bankrate survey, 55% of Americans in the workforce are at least somewhat likely to look for a new job in the next year, and workplace flexibility is their top priority.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily NewsWalpole TimesSharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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