Working from home inevitably means there are a lot of variables you can’t control. By now, you’ve likely witnessed someone’s pet, kid, significant other or loud neighbor interrupt a work call. Maybe you’ve even been that person yourself.
The good news? You’re not alone. We’re all juggling distractions – and some are harder to keep at bay than others. Here are a few funny stories of virtual calls that have taken a turn for the worst that will, hopefully, make you feel better about your own cringe-inducing moments.
1. Kissing caught on camera
“Last week, I was on a web call with my COO talking about whether or not we’re all completely equipped to work from home,” says Director of Pricing Joe Schmitt.
“During the call, my dog jumped up on my lap and destroyed my face with kisses. I have a 64-pound pit bull.”
2. A tiny terrorizer
Working from home with an infant comes with benefits and challenges.
On one hand, HR professional Stephanie Perez has been able to cheer up her coworkers with her daughter’s special appearances on conference calls. “I usually put her on my lap because it brightens up my coworker’s days when we all bring a kid or pet – and I’m the only one with a baby on my team,” she says.
However, there have been a few embarrassing instances. “She peed on me during a Zoom happy hour,” says Perez.
“She also took my earring off and tried to chew on it during a work Skype conference – and tried to bite my boob through my shirt in the middle of a call!”
3. Schooled on feline bowel movements
“A teacher I supervise answered her house phone while we were on a Google Meet and refused to mute it,” says Michael Rogers, a teacher based on Long Island.
“We all heard her pick up the phone call from her veterinarian…and heard all the details about how she was dealing with her cat’s diarrhea.”
4. Technical difficulty for dad
“Recently, I was asked with some onboarding training sessions,” says Spencer Waldron, Head of Remote Communications at Prezi. “I was nervous about it because I’ve never done onboarding calls before, and I was about to do one with someone from one of our key partners. Before the video call starts I say, even plead, to both of my children, ‘Daddy is about to go on an important call — please don’t come into the room or make too much noise for the next 30 minutes.’”
“I start the call, and then I suddenly see my youngest son appear on the screen behind me, iPad in hand, asking for the passcode to open it,” Waldron continues. “I decide it’s quickest to let him have the code. As I do this, the iPad wakes up and loud rap music starts playing and I can’t stop it, so I need to try and usher my son out of the door and away from the room. My face is blushing as I’m turning back to my screen, when a loud noise erupts from my headphones. It takes me a second to understand that the person I’m onboarding has two daughters who stormed into the room mid-argument. We both had a good laugh about it and it really made the call better in some weird way – like we’re all in it together and just dealing with stuff. “
5. The queen of miscommunication
“I joined a Zoom meeting with about 35 people in it,” says Allison Parc, founder and president of Brenne Whiskey. “But I confused the meeting memo and thought everyone was showing up in crazy hats. I was a couple minutes late to joining and when I did, I showed up on camera wearing a rather sparkly crown…and NO ONE ELSE was in a fun hat!”
“In all honesty, it was a meeting with an amazing group of women, and they lovingly demanded I wear it the whole time anyhow. Now, when I log into virtual happy hours I make sure I have a little pile of colored wigs and hats to choose from to help lighten the mood…just not when showing up to a more formal meeting!”
6. Flush with embarrassment
“On one of my conference calls, someone was unmuted while using the toilet,” says Heather Kleinschmidt, founder of All Become. Luckily, this person didn’t have their camera on.
In fact, they may still not know that everyone on the call heard them do their business. “No one said a word,” says Kleinschmidt. “The presenter just continued as though nothing was happening, and no one else interjected. There were a lot of people on the call, and we don’t all know each other very well!”