Career and Jobs

After Two Years On Zoom, Workers Finally Learned How To Fool Their Bosses

After two years of Zoom video calls we’ve learned how to game the system. There’s a few paths to take on a video meeting. You can pretend that you’re interested in the topic and engaged in the discourse. Some people use this time to promote themselves and burnish their brand. Others feel that it is their job to make your life miserable for the next forty five minutes.

Let’s be real, we’re Zoomed out. I’m using Zoom as a catchall for all the online video platforms including Webex, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Skype. They’re all great, useful and were a tremendous help to connect people and get work done during the pandemic. However, spending hour-after- hour on monotonous calls can become frustratingly tedious and burdonesome. How many times can you listen to your boss drone on about some arcane minutiae that no one cares about? 

Employees have learned coping mechanisms for having to be on video calls. A recent survey by XLMedia plc. shared some of the following techniques people use on the calls, first reported by the Daily Mail:

  • Over half say they regularly leave Zoom calls early in a bid to appear busy
  • Two-thirds admit setting their laptop camera at an angle to make them look more domineering in business meetings
  • Almost 25% have joined Zoom calls while on an indoor exercise bike to appear disciplined, healthy and dynamic.
  • 82% try to make a good impression by wearing formal office attire on the upper body, while dressing casually below the waist.
  • 86% per cent admit to thinking carefully about their onscreen backdrop and decor
  • Around 54% said they had developed the habit of saying something in Zoom meetings just to look more involved.
  • 56% try to make themselves look busier than they are by regularly leaving Zoom calls to attend another work meeting that doesn’t actually exist.
  • One in three people have tried to appear more committed by claiming to be ill while on Zoom – even though they were perfectly fine.
  • More than two-thirds have scheduled meetings in their office online diary to make themselves appear busier. And six in ten say they post positive statements about their company on social media to look like a loyal member of staff

Spokesman Dominic Celica said of the 2,000 person survey, “We were astonished at how far people will go to create a false impression to their boss and their colleagues.”

A YouGov survey found “Among all those who ever use the video feature while on conference calls, 25% say they spend more time looking at themselves.” This number seems too low, as many people might not want to openly admit that they constantly look at themselves. It’s not that they’re vain— many workers feel uncomfortable with the camera on, and it makes them feel insecure. 

“From leadership down to entry-level employees, 44% of respondents to a survey said that having bad WiFi is their biggest pet peeve when it comes to video conferencing. More than a third of participants had a slew of complaints, including too many people in one room for everyone to talk (37%); constantly being interrupted (35%); eating food while on a call (34%), not paying attention (33%), and not muting oneself when you’re not talking (33%),” according to new research from VPNoverview

The Verge shared an interesting video meeting hack.  Zoom Escaper, created by artist Sam Lavigne, is a free web app that offers an array of fake audio effects to your video call, providing an excuse to leave the call when it gets boring. You can select “barking dogs, construction noises, crying babies, or even subtler effects like choppy audio and unwanted echoes.” 

If video calls aren’t annoying enough, The New York Post wrote “Zoom is rolling out a series of fresh features, including one which will make it a lot more difficult to subtly enter a meeting late.” This feature is called  “Attendance Status” and allows hosts to see whether or not people accepted their meeting invites, and if they actually joined the call. There will be a “Not Joined” list of names spotlighting the people who were no-shows.   

Another irritant is the rise in Zoom corporate jargon. We should play buzzword Bingo to see who first uses the cliches: bandwidth, low hanging fruit, circle back, I need to jump on another call, you’re on mute, we lost you there for a minute, can you see my screen?, we’ll take this offline, let’s be conscious of the time we only have five minutes left, I have a hard stop, doubleclick, deep dive, new normal, boots on the ground, give 110%, low-hanging fruit, win-win, move the needle, think outside the box, alignment, back pocket, close the loop, deep dive, hard stop, line in the sand, lockstep, move the needle, on your radar, out of the box, paradigm shift, piggybacking, ping me, pivot, synergy, table this, unpack, and Dave you’re still on mute!

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