Delivery at the door during a work call? Better turn off the webcam and hope no-one notices!


According to new research, more than a third (34%) of people working from home in the UK have surreptitiously turned off their camera during a work video call and sneaked away to receive a home delivery. It rises to nearly half (42%) of people under 35.

One in five (18%) have exited a work call entirely when a delivery turns up, without giving a reason why, and around one in nine (11%) have actually missed a delivery while on a call because they were too embarrassed to tell their colleagues what was happening. Women are more likely than men (13% vs. 9%) to miss a delivery this way, but only one in fifteen (7%) workers aged 45 plus are.

Less than a third (29%) actually admitted to their colleagues on the call that they had a delivery at the door when the doorbell rang.

The study of 3,000 UK adults who work from home either part or full-time was commissioned by same-day courier company Gophr, which carries out same-day deliveries for leading consumer brands including Screwfix, HelloFresh, Co-op, Asda, Boots, Phlo Pharmacy, Yoox Net-a-Porter and Snappy Shopper.

It also found that women (23%) are more likely than men (15%) to have thought ahead and left instructions for the delivery company, trying to arrange the delivery for a time slot when they wouldn’t be on a call.

Londoners are the worst offenders when it comes to poor meeting etiquette, half as likely again as most other parts of the country to turn their camera off, sneak away or simply disappear.

Least likely to exit a call without telling anyone were those in the East Midlands, 10% compared to the 18% average. Only one in twenty five people in East Anglia or the South West said they missed a delivery because they were too embarrassed to leave the call compared to the country average of one in ten.

When it comes to getting organised, fewer than one in ten people in East Anglia leave instructions ahead of time, compared to one in three Londoners and one in five living in Yorkshire and Humber, making them the least organised in the country!

Seb Robert, CEO at Gophr, comments: “With many people ordering Christmas presents and other vital deliveries earlier than usual to beat the rush and overcome the UK’s well-documented supply chain issues, there are going to be more deliveries than ever coming in while they’re on work calls. Those couple of minutes when your colleague’s face vanishes and they go on mute might not be due to ‘technical issues’ after all.

It’s also intriguing how working from home is changing business etiquette. Imagine if you were in a physical meeting and you suddenly disappeared without excusing yourself to pick up a parcel from reception. It would never happen.

But with people’s toddlers and pets also famously making themselves known on video calls, maybe just admitting that you have a delivery at the door isn’t the faux pas that many might think it is. Home working – and home delivery – have become the norm.”

The definitive word on WFH Zoom etiquette goes to Francine Keating, Co-Founder and CEO of hybrid working consultancy Remote Kontrol: “It’s all about planning ahead. If you’re expecting a delivery during a virtual meeting, drop the host a message in advance to let them know. Similarly, the host should let participants know if they have a similar situation and have to absent themselves briefly. Then when the doorbell rings, minimise disruption by going on mute and switching off your camera until you’re back at your seat.

Being upfront and transparent is so much better than pretending nothing is happening and leaving your team-mates in the dark or subject to all sorts of background noises! The most successful remote work teams are definitely the ones that over-communicate.”