Do 15% of people think it isn’t acceptable to drink tea during a Zoom meeting?

For my sins, I spend a lot of time on Zoom. No, let me get that right. For my transgressions, I spend a lot of time on Zoom, but for my sins, I spend a lot of time on Teams.

Often that involves chairing a meeting, or the occasional block of cheese session, both of which make the evolving etiquette around video calls always of interest to me.

Handily, YouGov has some new polling on this, including the question of whether you should have your camera on:

Thinking about when people are working from home and participating in virtual meetings (i.e. Zoom call, Google Meet etc.), do you think each of the following is or is not acceptable?

Turning your camera off

It is acceptable in any meeting – 29%

It is only acceptable in informal/internal meetings – 22%

It is not acceptable in any meeting – 32%

The variation by age is striking, with only 16% of 18-24 year olds saying turning the camera off is not acceptable in any meeting but rising to 38% of the 50-64 year olds and 58% of the 65+. (Though for the 65+, I wonder how many have experienced a work video call to base their views on?)

There is a similar pattern across other questions, with generally the younger you are, the more acceptable you find it to have more casual clothing, children or pets around or foodstuffs being consumed.

One of those answers, however, is likely not quite what it seems:

Drinking (non-alcoholic drink)

It is acceptable in any meeting – 56%

It is only acceptable in informal/internal meetings – 22%

It is not acceptable in any meeting – 15%

Strictly speaking, that means 15% of people are saying it is not acceptable to drink a cup of tea during even an informal work meeting.

This is, I suspect, a case where when people are asked to answer a large number of questions quickly on topics they’ve not thought about deeply, the subtlety of question wording can have a big impact. In this case the using of “drinking” (with the connotations that word often has) and the absence of a prompt such as “tea”, “coffee” or even “water”.

It is a guess, but I’m pretty sure 15% of people wouldn’t have said taking a sip of water during a meeting is not acceptable.

Full data here.

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3 responses to “Do 15% of people think it isn’t acceptable to drink tea during a Zoom meeting?”

  1. First off, if you are ‘outside the M25’ the strength of your signal might be a problem, so it has become ‘etiquette’ here to mute and turn off your camera, and only turn on when you are making input. It seems to help the quality of the signal for everyone. Of course, if you are speaking or taking part then you should not be eating or drinking anyway, so where’s the problem.?.
    Zoom is by far the best, Teams probably the worst, though our local Authority have contracted to use it(probably frightened by the security myths that were put out about Huawei). And to get the best from any on-line meeting you must use the chat facility to the max.
    We are now having ‘pop-up’ meetings on single topics, rather then face-to-face meetings covering lots of things, – far more cost-effective, saves time and travel, saves the cost of the meeting room, and you can do other things whilst listening, (and best of all have your coffee the way you like it!)

    • Are you not allowed to drink a cup of tea if you’re speaking in a meeting? This always was seen as acceptable for in-person meetings in my experience, so it seems strange to me if people now think that’s not acceptable for an online one?

  2. I definitely agree about muting your microphone when not actually speaking on Zoom. Sometimes you can get feedback from someone else’s speakers played back through their microphone, particularly if they are using the built-in laptop speakers and microphone. Turning off your camera is something that I think should only be done if there are bandwidth issues, as happens from time to time with Zoom. My language classes run by City Lit are on Zoom and no-one seems to be bothered by others drinking from a mug during the class (whether it is tea, coffee or something else).

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