Welcome to Zoom Fatigue, America! (from the Czar of Common Sense)

Kris Dunn Change Management, Communication, COVID-19, Employee Communications, Video

DATELINE: Day 43 of the great COVID Lockdown in America.
MOOD: Salty.
REASON: 5 Video calls on my calendar for the day.

But Kris (you say), it’s a chance to connect with everyone at the company. It’s awesome!

True. We’ve been connecting a lot for sure.

But Kris, given the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) during this time, it’s imperative to stay connected.

<toggles to try and unmute> Awkward pause in response. Whoops.

But Kris, I think we’re closer than we’ve ever been, don’t you?

You froze up on me a bit there. Did you say we’re has beens? Not sure what you mean? (I actually heard what you said. I’m messing with you and trying to keep it interesting).

Look, I don’t want to go off on a rant here, but here I go anyway.

We’ve probably lost our minds a bit with the uptick in video conference calls. Apologies to Zoom, a stock I shorted two weeks into the COVID shutdown. (insert cash register sound)

There’s no question all amounts of video connection were warranted, appropriate and recommended through the first month of this crisis. We needed to see each other and rally around the fact we we are in this together.

As long as many workforces are 100% (or close to it) remote, all-hands meetings where your leaders are seen as well as heard continue to be warranted.

Good? Great. Now onto today’s business.

Now let’s talk about the rest of it. I’m pitching that as we begin to close the 2nd full month of the lockdown, remote work isn’t going anywhere for a lot of us. Even if your state has OK’d going back to work, most companies aren’t in a hurry to gobble up liability by bringing us all back to the the ‘ole Class A or B commercial real estate anytime soon. Some will never return.

That’s why as your Czar of Common Sense, I’m calling for a relaxing of the following types of video calls:

  1. Any ordinary call with a person who was working 40% or more remote before all this went down. People who worked remote before COVID think the video call scene is out of control. They deserve your sympathy, and they deserve to be a mess appearance-wise through their work day. They had a good life! What’s that? You think they’ve been a mess on the video calls? You have no idea – that’s dressed up for them.
  2. On any 1/1 call that used to go down via good-old audio, either party can opt out of video and just show that sad name plate on Zoom – the one where the video is supposed to go. We can still use the platform, and the extroverts can still use their webcam. You just won’t see the party that opted out. All must be OK with this as we enter month 3 of the lockdown.
  3. On calls that are sensitive in any way – layoffs, furloughs, performance feedback, etc – consider whether video is the right way to go in a 100% remote environment. While we’re all settling into the video vibe, tough news and feedback might actually go better via an 1/1 audio call where the person getting bad news doesn’t feel like they have to perform visually and be someone they’re not. I know you feel like you should deliver the news face to face (so do I), but video is not face to face. It exists on plane somewhere between a live conversation and an audio call. Results vary and are fluid. 1/1 communication is still 100% the path, but we need to think about the best modality to tackle this.
  4. Calls using Zoom Backgrounds that you think are straight up Gangster. If you’re that guy or gal that’s amazing everyone with your Zoom background, it was funny the first three times. Now? Well, if you’re wondering why people aren’t talking about your new Bikini Bottom background, it’s because they would probably slash your tires if they were in your driveway. In the most team friendly, we’re in this together way, of course.

The Czar has spoken. As surely as Outback Steakhouse will open the doors and offer facemasks to anyone dining in within the next 3 weeks, use of video will regress to the mean.

Unless there’s innovation like this Zoom Background. If you’re bringing it like this person, I’m happy to turn the camera on.

KD Czar out.