Leo Ratzlaff
Writing/

Data and thoughts on ‘eating during meetings’

What people (including me) think about this subject.

Feb 28, 2021 2 min read

I joined Dell in January of 2021 to work remotely — maybe temporarily, maybe not. I decided that I would keep my camera on during meetings as much as I could. I did it for every single one for the first couple of weeks — until the day that a meeting started when lunch was ready.

I had no doubts that I should not turn on my camera, but when I saw a coworker eating and realized I didn’t care about that, I got curious about everyone’s opinion, and so I ran a poll on LinkedIn.

I asked, “Do you find it disrespectful or unprofessional to eat during a meeting with your camera on?”, and offered three options: 1. Yes; 2. No, if you’re more a listener; 3. Not at all. I’m not popular on LinkedIn (nor anywhere else) and I got 110 answers. Here is the result:

Poll’s result: 31% of votes for “Yes”, 43% of votes for “No, if your more a listener”, and 26% of votes for “Not at all”.

I decided to take a look at what my coworkers who voted think of that, and while I was going through the results, one detail grabbed my attention: Apparently, women are way more receptive about this subject. Here is the comparison between women and men:

Poll’s result: Votes for “Yes”: 18% women and 41% men. Votes for “No, if you’re more a listener”: 55% women and 33% men. Votes for “Not at all”: 27% Women and 26% men.

Of course, you can not split this topic into three options only. Some people brought up to me later on informal conversations and comments on the post that there are several circumstances to consider, such as what people are eating or if they say something about trying to be polite.

To me, working with people from four different time zones (sometimes even more), it’s almost impossible to schedule every single call dodging all meals from all team members. Therefore, if you ask me if it is disrespectful or unprofessional to eat during a meeting with your camera on, I will say: “Not at all.”