My recent column here on Zoom meeting over-sharing was picked up by LinkedIn news to about 3 million followers in Australia, Britain and Asia. They posed a provocative poll question: Is it OK for co-workers to over-share while using video calls?
At the time of writing the poll is closed in the Australian group, is almost closed in Britain and has a week to run in Asia – so the numbers may move around a little – but between about 3000 Australians and 8500 British have responded.
The striking thing is how people felt “over-sharing” was OK in small team meetings, including eating during Zoom calls, and walking into a kitchen to make a cup of tea with the camera on. Across Australia-Asia-Britain the percentages were 45 per cent – 46 per cent – 46 per cent.
A large minority in each region felt uncomfortable by over-sharing. Across Australia-Asia-Britain the percentages were 30 per cent – 34 per cent – 26 per cent. If these results can be generalised, and I have some reservations, it suggests that if you are in a Zoom meeting of three or more people at least one of them on average will not appreciate your over-sharing.
Many people felt they have been insufficiently supported in terms of how they set up their working from home arrangements. They felt they were thrown into it. Often they feel that they do not have the resources to create a “professional” (whatever that means) environment. They feel that there have been insufficient guidance about Zoom meeting etiquette.
For me, the most surprising and intriguing aspect was that a solid minority were “totally fine” with over-sharing. Across Australia-Asia-Britain the percentages were 21 per cent -19 per cent – 26 per cent. Many who were motivated to provide comments argued that work is enhanced by developing relationships, and showing our vulnerabilities is to be commended.
Possibly, these sentiments reflect some of the currently influential strands in behaviour-at-work discussions. The importance placed upon personal identity and acceptance is echoed in these sentiments, and there appears to be a desire to blur or obliterate the boundaries between work and personal life. I would imagine that for the vast majority, this is matter of redefining the boundaries rather than removing them entirely, but perhaps not?
There have always been different approaches to self-disclosure in the office. Some people have ever been happy to share even the most intimate aspects of their personal lives (whether others want or are interested to know). However, others prefer to remain enigmas and place a firm separation between their work and non-work personas. Clearly these variations are no different in a video meeting context. And they are likely to vary due a range of other factors and considerations.