Can I tell my co-workers to pay attention in a Zoom call?

In Zoom meetings, I’ve noticed that people feel free to check their phones and do e-mail. Others turn off their cameras, so who knows if they are paying attention? I find this distracting and rude when I present. Can I say something even if I’m not the boss?

When meetings took place in the office, at least people tried to be more subtle and hide their phones under the conference table while they checked e-mail or texted. I generally don’t think there’s a problem with politely and professionally asking people to turn on their cameras and stay off their phones even if you are not the boss — provided you have enough authority to make that request, otherwise it could backfire. And you don’t want to do that if your boss is on the Zoom call since you’ll risk embarrassing your boss publicly if they are an offender. The best approach is to discuss this with your boss privately and for the boss to set the Zoom etiquette rules, and to lead by example.

I’m miserable working from home. My wife is driving me crazy and the anxiety of being cooped up in my tiny apartment is too much. The problem is my employer won’t let me back in the office without a vaccine and I don’t want to get it. Can I claim disability due to anxiety because my employer won’t let me work from the office?

Now, that is a new one. I have been asked countless times about anxiety about returning to the office, but not about being forced to work from home. I’m not making light of anyone who has anxiety, but it’s a good thing that we keep these questions anonymous because if your wife got wind of your sentiment you might have even more to be anxious about. Generally, the cause of anxiety is less relevant than does it limit your day-to-day functioning to qualify as a disability, as diagnosed and certified by a doctor. You may present that to your employer and request a leave of absence, or explain what accommodation you would need, and see how your employer responds. Most have demonstrated compassion around the impact of this pandemic on mental health, so start with a discussion about the help you need.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work. E-mail your questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at