Zoom Blunders in the Age of COVID-19: Shirtless Lawyers, Flatulence and Naked Spouses

Zoom meetings are the new normal during the coronavirus crisis.
Zoom meetings are the new normal during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.Getty

Using Zoom in the workplace has led to memorable, and mortifying, moments.

Memo to self during Zoom meetings: put some darn clothes on, hit the mute button when not talking, and make sure there is a towel in the bathroom before stepping in the shower.

As the coronavirus pandemic forces much of America's workforce to toil from home, some folks have learned the hard way that they can actually be seen and heard by those on the other end of live Zoom video meetings.

This week, a Florida judge in Broward County wrote a stern letter to lawyers appearing online in his court hearings. Put a shirt on! he admonished. And get out of bed!

Incredulous circuit judge Dennis Bailey wrote "It is remarkable how many ATTORNEYS appear inappropriately on camera,” in a letter posted to the Weston Bar Association website. “We’ve seen many lawyers in casual shirts and blouses, with no concern for ill-grooming, in bedrooms with the master bed in the background, etc. One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers."

And "putting on a beach cover-up won't cover up [that] you're poolside in a bathing suit. So, please, if you don't mind, let's treat court hearings as court hearings, whether Zooming or not,” he chided.

In the business world, that recurring Freudian nightmare where one dreams they are in naked in public, has become an embarrassing reality.

Posting on Twitter, a wife wrote of stepping out of the shower only to discover there were no towels in the bathroom. Dripping, she ran to grab one, realizing too late that her spouse was on a conference call with his colleagues.

“Pro-tip: if you and your husband are both working from home, check to see if he's on a four-way video call BEFORE running past the office naked to get a towel from the linen closet. #RealStory #COVID19 #WFH,” wrote Christina Kerby, a health care and crisis communicator.

Yvette Chua outed herself on Twitter after mistakenly believing she had hit the mute button before audibly passing gas. “WFH Day 3: Was in a 15 person online meeting, thought I was muted, farted really loudly.......... sh*t ,” she wrote. 

Parents trying to hold onto their sanity and their jobs while working in homes filled with noisy kids have also publicly shared their shame. 

Pineapple Media co-founder Jenna Weiss-Berman, trying to multi-task in the company of her 3-year-old son, ended up sharing an anatomy lesson, courtesy of her toddler.

“My kid just walked into my video conference, yelled ‘look at my penis,’ and hit the button on his fart machine. Working from home going really great!” she posted to Twitter.

A woman named Ashley shared online that her Google Home device chimed in, unbidden, when a question was asked during a business video call. 

"I'm in a WFH meeting and my Google Home just answered a question someone on the video call asked, unprompted. I nearly jumped out of my skin."


And then there's poor Jennifer, a woman who also thought she'd muted herself when she walked into her bathroom and relieved herself while holding her laptop. Her coworkers could see her doing the prep work necessary before sitting down, and they gasped as they listened to the tell-tale tinkle.

Turning the screen away from herself, she asked her colleagues, "What happened?"

"Poor Jennifer," someone responded. "She's not used to this new life yet."