Zoom-Call Gaffes Led to Someone Getting Axed, 1 in 4 Bosses Say

Nearly 1 in 4 executives have fired a staffer for slipping up during a video or audio conference, and most have levied some sort of disciplinary action for gaffes made in virtual meetings, a survey of 200 managers at large companies found. The survey, commissioned by Vyopta Inc., which helps companies manage their workplace collaboration and communication systems, also found that executives don’t fully trust a third of their staff to perform effectively when working remotely.

The pessimistic findings illustrate how workers are still getting accustomed to working remotely, which has become commonplace during the Covid-19 pandemic. Daily participants in Zoom calls surged from 10 million a day at the end of 2019 to 300 million in April 2020, the conferencing company has said, and in recent weeks many companies have pushed back their plans to return to offices due to the delta variant’s spread. Some Zoom miscues, like New Yorker magazine writer Jeffrey Toobin getting fired for inadvertently exposing himself, have been well-publicized.

Virtual-meeting miscues include joining a call late, having a bad Internet connection, accidentally sharing sensitive information, and of course, not knowing when to mute yourself. The slip-ups can hurt businesses, leading to client defections, lost sales opportunities or missed deadlines, the survey found. Still, executives continue to support working from home, and nearly 3 out of 4 surveyed by Austin, Texas-based Vyopta plan to maintain or expand the number of employees allowed to work a hybrid schedule over the next 12 months.

The findings come a day after Zoom Video Communications Inc. disappointed analysts with its sales forecast, sending its shares down about 16% Tuesday. With many schools restarting in person, offices reopening in some parts of the world and competition increasing from companies like Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, investors are concerned the days of Zoom’s robust growth are over.

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