Cats, kids and 'Potato boss': Work-from-home fails and faux pas

Scene-stealing cats, kids with energy to burn, and let’s call them technical difficulties.

They’ve all been part of the work-from-home experience, and clumsiness with the practice has struck everything from online church sermons to oral arguments by teleconference before the U.S. Supreme Court.

ROMAN MARTINEZ: "And what the FCC has said is that when [TOILET FLUSHING] the subject matter of the call ranges to such topics then the call is transformed."

Work-from-home mishaps have seemed to spare no industry or profession.

"I am now internationally famous for not knowing how to use technology."

Lizet Ocampo is a political director at a non-profit advocacy group in Washington D.C.

But she's better known on the internet as "Potato Boss" after her employee snapped a photo of her as the root vegetable because of an unwieldy Snapchat filter.

"I was turning on Microsoft Teams to have a video meeting with our team at People for the American Way. So we turn on the cameras and there I was as a potato. And, at first, we didn't know what it was but then we noticed the soil and the grass. We were like 'okay, this is a potato.' I kept on trying to fix it. It wouldn't work. So I just kind of sat there as a potato for the meeting."

"I think, right now, it's very clear like who 'gets' Snapchat..."

Jessica Appelgren is an executive at Impossible Foods in San Francisco. She's experienced similar issues with Zoom's videoconferencing app.

"'Alien eyes! Alien eyes!' I mean, the comments were just flowing in the chat field just like, 'What's wrong with Jessica's face?!"

But it's not just contending with new technology.

[DOG BARKS] "That's been a real problem."

Applegren says there have been far greater challenges.

"In a given day, I will tell you, it is in this order: It's the dog and then it's the kids and then it's my neighbor who comes over to walk the dog. So that's great... "Parents have a very different situation on their hands with trying to keep the kids busy and work at the same time. And I think we were worried about how to model well for our kids in this time."

Companies want model employees, too.

"He climbs over, he has actually created a meeting for me last week that was several hours long."

Andre Hilden, a data architecture consultant in Oakland, California, missed a memo from his company outlining videoconferencing etiquette.

"I did not read that one."

After his cat, Tasha, crashed one of the early virtual business meetings, Hilden's employer made an example out of him.

"I had my cat on my lap, actually. I was not thinking it would be a problem. And it ended up being, coming across as unprofessional. And team members of mine saw me in the same meeting and did not like that and pointed it out, and made it the topic in the next internal gathering in an effort to make sure that this doesn't happen anymore."

Despite its disadvantages, working from home could very well become the rule.

Videoconferencing company Zoom said it had about 300 million daily meeting participants in April. Granted, some of those may have been cats.

And even as businesses begin to reopen, many employees are still working from home and will for the foreseeable future.

"Remote work is going to be a growing trend."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square announced that employees at their companies will be allowed to work from home indefinitely.