I work in I.T., so I am no stranger to working from home as 99% of my work can be done without stepping foot into my office. When we first got notice that we would be working from home indefinitely, everyone in meetings would be as proper as possible. Always attentive, microphone on (outside of the occasional “sorry for the background noise” ) and occasionally turning my camera on if I was in an important meeting with a client for a project. As the days turned into weeks and then months you could tell that more and more people were becoming more relaxed when it came to meetings. Cameras rarely on, microphones off (followed up with the consistent “if you are talking, you are on mute”) and an overall disheveled look because why make yourself look good when you are just going to be sitting around the house, right?
I have been slowly slipping into this and was becoming more and more bored/tired of the same type of meeting that could have been an email. I had just been given word that one of our larger customer that I take care of on a regular basis was looking to upgrade to the newest version of their system which would turn into a 4-5 month long process as there are numerous things to be completed before it can be handed over. Think of it like Apple or Android coming out with a completely brand new version. This ramped up the amount of meetings/calls I had from about 6-8 a week to 4-5 a day now, both internal and with the customer & functional partner company that was contracted to do their testing. I have been working with this customer since they signed with my company about 4 years ago, so it is safe to say that I am incredibly comfortable with being on calls with them.
My wife has also been working from home for the past year and is in a similar situation to me with meetings, so we decided to have a little bit of fun and with our coinciding meetings and play Conference Call Bingo. If you are not familiar with it, it is exactly how it sounds. Words or actions are done on the call, you tick them off your Bingo card until you get 5 in a row. Nice and simple and we turned it into an ongoing wager with the loser having to either make dinner, change the next 4 diapers, etc.
The Fail Day - We had just finished up the customers Dev environment and were going over everything with both them and the functional partner as well as heads of departments from my company totaling about 45 people on the call. What better call to try to win, so I upped the stakes with the wife to “Loser has to find the next outdoor activity that we have never done with the kids before” and we would need to cover the entire card, not just 5 in a row. With this meeting microphones were muted once you joined the call, but could be manually unmuted to speak before re-muting and cameras were needing to stay on. I had a rather large portion of items I needed to speak to, so I was trying to get as many spaces covered before I needed to speak. I was trucking along with my card, covering all but 2 spots in the first 25 minutes of the call. After I had completed my spiel about ongoing issues and what not, I pressed mute and went about waiting for the next action/phrase so I could complete my Bingo card. You can probably already see where this is going…
I was waiting on “child or animal noise” to complete my card when all of a sudden a dog barked loudly while someone was talking. Much to my excitement I screamed “BINGOOOOOOOOOO” while simultaneously raising my arms and turning around to my wife to gloat my win. As I turned back around in my car, the call was eerily quiet. Then I saw it.
The meeting went silent and everyone had a bewildered look on their faces. Panic immediately set in as I was scrambling to come up with an answer to my actions. Then it dawned on me “I am so sorry about that, my kids are watching a B-I-N-G-O video right now and get upset if I don’t yell ‘BINGO!’ before they say ‘was his name-o’. I thought I was on mute”
I see the VP of Operations unmute their mic and say “Oh it is okay! My kids do the same thing with me, only it is the Johnny Johnny Yes Papa song”. Needless to say that lightened the mood of the call a little more as we took a 5 minute break to talk about all of our kids antics while working from home. I breathed a sigh of relief and went about completing the meeting. The only fallout was a quick conversation with my Director about needing to be focused more on calls like that, but 100% understanding that it happened but you better believe I now constantly glance at the mic icon to make sure I am muted at all times unless needing to speak to something.
TL;DR - Was in a work call with a client while playing ‘Conference Call Bingo’ against my wife and screamed Bingo while 45 other people looked on in confusion.