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Ask Mx Conduct: Can My Workplace Force Me to Switch on Video For Every Work Zoom Call?

Representative photo. Credit: Shutterstock

Representative photo. Credit: Shutterstock

This week on #AskMxConduct, we’re highlighting questions that we have received from our readers and answering the ones that we believe will be most relevant for all of you - employees, as well as leaders.

International Working Women’s Day comes only once a year and is gone as soon as it comes. What will stay though are the women in your teams. This week on #AskMxConduct, we’re highlighting questions that we have received from our readers and answering the ones that we believe will be most relevant for all of you – employees, as well as leaders.

How do I tell people at work that I do not like their double meaning and sexist jokes? How do I tell them without offending them? (Content Professional, 25, Delhi)

Oh well. They started this, right? While I believe there’s nothing wrong in calling a spade a spade, it’s important to handle these situations tactfully. These are people you’re going to be working alongside and it is not easy to just tell them not to do something (it depends on your rapport with them). Here are a few suggestions – next time they crack a bad one, ask them to explain the joke, ask them to tell you what’s funny about it, or just pretend that you didn’t hear the punch line and ask them to repeat it. The best way to kill a joke is to ask people to explain it. =)

People at work are generally very curious about my personal life. My husband does not stay in the same city and I am a little irritated about the unnecessary discussions about my life and decisions. Is this harassment? (Finance/Account Personnel, 37, Pune)

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Feel free to reach out to HR or your Internal Committee on this one. This is just the beginning of a toxic environment and not addressing it right away will only lead to further queries, discussions and gossip to make your professional experience in the office complicated.

I recently went for an office trip and for some cost cutting reasons, the company booked a single room for both me and my male colleague. This was not conveyed to me in advance, and on the spot I could not think of booking the room on my own. I felt really cornered and when I came back I discussed this with my senior who told me to adjust and accommodate. Am I over-thinking? (Costume/Creative Assistant, 23, Mumbai)

There is no such thing as over thinking when we have to define boundaries – both in personal as well as professional life. In fact, I am glad that you recognise that a boundary was violated and you spoke about it. For the company, this may not be a big deal and they may not be considering your experience and sense of privacy as important factors. Luckily, they do not have much choice or say here. This is a violation of your workplace rights, you can file a complaint about it if they do not address this as a procedural matter for future travels, not just for you but for every woman.

I have recently joined a new team as an intern and with work from home, I have to get on frequent calls on Zoom or some other platform with different people involved. The company has a strange policy of demanding that everyone keeps their video on, all the time, irrespective of the time of the call. Can they do that? I have told them several times that I would not like to switch on my video but I am still facing pressure to do it as this is company policy. How does this work? (Intern, 21, Bangalore)

The workplace dynamics have shifted and so has the mode of working for teams. There are some reasons for which they may require video presence, and that could be true for some meetings but there is no appropriate reason for them to demand it for all the time. Especially after you pointed out your discomfort, if they are still persisting with this mandate then I am sorry to tell you but you are part of an “insensitive” workplace which does not know how to accommodate the needs and requests of their team members.

I would suggest reaching out to HR in writing, involving some members of the senior leadership and even looping in the legal team to get them to understand that how this is something which is and cannot be enforceable like this. Write an email highlighting what exactly is the discomfort and wait for them to respond. With work from home conversations happening quite actively in the industry, I am sure the leaders will see the need to let go of this ridiculous mandate.

This journey that we’re on is growing every week with more and more questions pouring in on nuanced issues faced by individuals at the workplaces. If there is a query, experience, bothering you, and you want to know how to handle it at work, write to us at pallavi@ungender.in and let us help you through it. You can also tweet to us @news18dotcom your queries with #AskMxConduct.

first published:March 06, 2021, 10:29 IST