Punctuality in a Virtual World

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

What does it take to be early to our business meetings? Or at least on time?!

In our new reality, punctuality seems to be of utmost importance for some, and not much more than an afterthought for others, especially for those finding themselves in back to back to back Zoom calls.

How can we balance our "new" normal with the need to also be courteous of others' time? How important is punctuality - for both internal meetings and external ones?

Throughout my career, I have probably had hundreds, if not thousands, of meetings in person, on the telephone, and most recently, via Zoom video chat.

What is the proper etiquette for when you are going to be late? And what about when you are attending a meeting where the host or leader has not arrived or joined even five or 10 minutes after it was scheduled to begin?

For those of us who vividly remember our college days (even if they were a long time ago), it was quite a common practice that if a professor did not show up within 10 minutes of the start of the class time, you were excused without penalty.

Should a 10 minute rule still apply in business? Maybe a 5 minute rule?

Are You Punctual?

Are you a punctual person in general? Or, maybe...not so much?

Has a mentor ever helped you work on your punctuality? Did a parent or other influential role model instill in you a need to be early (or at least on time) for every commitment you make? Or are you learning as you go in your career?

In the days of all of us commuting and traveling, it was quite easy to blame the traffic (or even flights) on being tardy. It was quite easy to use a busy and congested freeway or airport as a scapegoat.

In our new virtual world, we must now be much more disciplined about our own calendar, and the respect we show others. If we have meetings that run back to back to back to back, it might be nearly impossible to be habitual with wrapping up each meeting with enough time to dial into the next one. What can we do to improve?

Using Technology to Show Respect for Others' Time

  • Try to remember to review your calendar each week to see what you've said yes to, what others have committed to you, and how often your meetings run back to back (to back!).

  • Make sure you've used the Outlook calendar settings to clearly communicate to each meeting's host if you are attending for sure, might be attending, or cannot joint the meeting.

  • If something comes up and you realize you are going to be more than a few minutes late to a meeting you've committed to attending, text, instant message, or email the host.

  • If you are going to miss a meeting you've accepted, consider asking the host if you can send a substitute or delegate on your behalf.

Is Being Courteous the Priority?

In sales, trust, credibility and rapport are at the core of all internal and external relationships we build and maintain.

Sometimes, being punctual will not matter as much as being courteous. About others' schedules. And their days. Respecting others' time is at the center of this reflection.

And, if you aren't sure if someone values punctuality, do your research and ask. Your curiosity and attention to detail will go a long way.

To yet another week of Zoom meetings. And doing our best to be early, or at least one time!