How to run a Zoom event like a pro, and other tips from Zoom employees
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

How to run a Zoom event like a pro, and other tips from Zoom employees

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today Protocol spoke to Zoom employees to get the inside scoop on how to throw events and whether it’s OK to eat lunch on camera. Plus, we spoke to a CEO who is using his product to combat proximity bias, and a new report shows just how many employees are taking their cloud uploads with them when they leave their job.

— Meg Morrone, senior editor (email | twitter)

Don't eat chicken wings on Zoom

We all spend a little too much time on Zoom these days, but it’s safe to say that the people who actually work at Zoom (they call themselves “Zoomies”) spend more time in Zoom rooms than the rest of us. And even with all the handy Zoom tips we’ve learned over the past two years, there’s more that we can learn from a Zoomie. Protocol spoke with employees across Zoom about how best to run hybrid events, Zoomie etiquette and whether it’s socially acceptable to eat on camera.

Let everyone participate. Zoom’s event specialists manager Sam Kokajko runs an entirely remote operation, organizing feeds and team members from all over the country. The event services team consults with customers on everything from small-business webinars to awards ceremonies like the Emmys.

  • For all Zoom events, Kokajko is focused on ensuring everyone has equal opportunity to participate.
  • “If someone has an ability in a session to get on a mic and say something in the room, then someone in a virtual audience should have the ability to ask that same question,” he said.
  • Keeping the chat open for active audience engagement is crucial, he said. Zoom always displays a QR code for live audiences to scan and enter the chat, too.

Even Zoomies know you can have too much Zoom. The Zoom employees that Protocol spoke to said there weren’t too many rules for meetings, but they don’t like to waste time either.

  • In order to make sure everyone is prepared, Zoomies must send written materials at least 24 hours before a scheduled meeting.
  • The other rule: Don’t hold meetings on Wednesdays. Sharvari Nerurkar, head of Zoom chat product, told Protocol that she accidentally invited CEO Eric Yuan to a meeting on a Wednesday once. He declined (she won’t make that mistake again).
  • Not all Zoom employees work full-time at home. Zoom’s HQ is in San Jose and the company also has offices in Denver, Sydney and Amsterdam where workers can meet in person.

Have your cake and eat it on Zoom, too. Nerurkar told Protocol that recently one of her team members was eating during a meeting and decided to use the Zoom panda avatar to hide their face. Avatars are one of the ways Zoom employees try to have some fun with the platform. In this case, the avatar was socially convenient as well — though Nerurkar doesn’t have a problem with people eating on camera.

  • “When I used to go to the office, I would eat sandwiches in a meeting,” Nerurkar said. “I’m taking that forward. As long as you’re not eating chicken wings.”
  • Nerurkar is all for flexibility when it comes to meeting etiquette. There’s no formal set of rules inside the company.
  • Everyone is expected to act like adults, of course, but turning yourself into a fox with a hoodie is fair game.
— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email| twitter), and Meg Morrone, senior editor (email | twitter)

How to beat proximity bias

Jim Szafranski, CEO of presentation software company Prezi, started developing video meeting and presentation software Prezi Video as a “hobby project” toward the end of 2019. Then the pandemic hit.

“What was typically thought of as a presentation company suddenly was involved in the virtual work world,” Szafranski said.

Now Prezi Video accounts for a third of the company’s business, with millions of users and more than 200,000 organizations as customers. Though Prezi was able to shift its focus, Szafranski wanted to get a better understanding of the biggest issues with remote and hybrid work, and what companies could do to fix them.

In a survey of more than 1,100 enterprise workers across the companies it serves, Prezi found that 66% said proximity bias exists in their company culture, favoring the colleagues who make it into the office regularly. But only 8% reported having all of their meetings entirely in person.

“Based on what we observe with our customers, you're still going to have somebody not in the room at most meetings,” Szafranski said. “You're going to continue to need to be cognizant of a remote workforce.”

Szafranski sat down with Protocol to talk about how to beat proximity bias, how working works at Prezi and how to encourage workers to keep cameras on during meetings.

Read the interview.

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There are too many apps for that

Cybersecurity software company Netskope recently published its cloud and threat report, which looks at “data sprawl,” the rising trend of workers uploading company documents to a wide variety of cloud apps that they use for work and also personal apps that they use to hold onto data after they’ve left a company.

  • 22% of users upload, create, share or store data in personal apps.
  • In the first five months of 2022, 20% of users leaving an organization uploaded more data than usual to personal apps during their last 30 days at the organization.
  • Documents accounted for 30% of all uploads, and images accounted for 29%.
  • The top two apps to which users upload data before they leave were Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.
  • The fastest growing collaboration apps are HelloSign, Figma, Evernote, Wrike and Prezi.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

The benefits of envy at work: “If we’re envious of a coworker’s swift rise within the company ranks, this can be fuel to pursue our own professional success.” (Vox)

In this the year 2022, it’s OK for direct reports to deliver their weekly status updates in a song. (Ask a Manager)

More companies are using software to track employees and pay them only for minutes they’ve actually worked. But the software (surprise!) is often wrong. (The New York Times)

And finally, I hope you can find a way to work as smart as this man today.

Sponsored content from Cisco

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