We are a society of telecommuters. Inventions like cell phones, laptops, and Wi-Fi have made it easier to keep up with the movements of society and the need to be on the go. However, I feel that convenience has taken a little something out of the process of business: courtesy. I hear stories all the times about conference calls gone wrong. From barking dogs to the sounds of emergency sirens in the background, I have put down a couple of places that, in my personal opinion, are the worst places to be trying to host, speak, or participate on a conference call.
The Bathroom – This is such a horrible idea. It's completely understandable that sometimes business just doesn't allow you time in between meetings. Trust me, I get it. The bathroom is somewhere that business should never be conducted in. For me, I don't like knowing when someone is texting or tweeting me from a facility, much less trying to listen in (or worse, host) a conference call.
Chuck E' Cheese – Really, this applies to any other child-friendly zone. Not to be mean to the future of America, but kids don't really understand the meaning of “shh”. Sitting in a place where children run rampant, shoving pizza and soda in their mouths is not a place to try to conduct your business.
Any restaurant – This one should be pretty easy. There's a lot of background noise and clutter that can muddy up the sound on the conference call. You want to be able to pay attention, and above all, you don't want to be a disruption to what's going on. Avoid places where the waitress will be heard asking if you want more iced tea or dropping a tray in the background. Plus, you'll avoid getting any kind of sauce on your notes.
Frankly, if you absolutely have to take a conference call from any of the aforementioned places, use the nifty little features on your phone called a mute button. With the mute on, I say more power to you when it comes to being on a conference call while going through the grocery line or trying to grab a bite to eat. As a host on a conference call, most services provide a way to mute participant lines or even provide a command for you to give to people to mute their lines through the conference service, also eliminating the possibility of the hold music playing.
What do you think though? I have my opinions on when it's okay to try to conduct business and when it isn't, but I know that everyone is going to feel differently. Is there anywhere that it is a complete and utter no-no to try to be on a conference call? Have you ever forgotten about muting your line and hoped that the embarrassing thing that just happened can never be traced back to you?