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Following The Zoom Crowd

August 20, 2020

It’s a typical meeting. The invitation arrives through email. At the appointed time you click on the link and then you are presented with that message.

Login with video: YES or NO

What do you choose?

My default choice is NO. In fact, it’s not just that I say no. I don’t trust video. In fact, by default my camera is turned to face away from me. Oh, and it’s unplugged.

On my iPad I put tape over my camera. I have no evidence that my cameras have ever been hacked. But, I can guarantee that if they are, the hacker will see the back of a post it note. Or the wall. Or the camera on my laptop that is closed and locked into a docking station.

All I know is that I won’t be showing up on video unexpectedly.

But, what about a Zoom meeting? Do you join with or without video?

I’ve realized a unspoken cultural norm in my company. And it extends beyond my company as well. It’s a cultural habit that many of us have subconsiously adopted. If I log into a meeting where no one is using video, I won’t use video. However, if I log into a meeting where people are using video, I’ll turn my camera on.

I’m not a fan of video conferences. There is an argument that video conferences simulate actual meetings. They don’t, of course. I would guess that before the pandemic hit, your day began with a shower. Perhaps a shave. You probably got dressed and headed to work.

None of us miss the commute. But, our days often beginning differently now. Some people shower in the afternoon. Some choose to work in their pajamas. In fact, even with video conferences, many choose to not wear pants. Sweat pants, shorts, pajama pants.

And when we participate in those video conferences, unlike meetings, we each have a different background. We each have different dress standards. And in a meeting, a real life meeting, we each spend a lot of time not looking at each other. But, in a video conference, it always feel awkward to stare or be stared at.

I wonder as we become more used to online meetings if we will develop protocols. Rules for how to have these meetings. I was in one recently that asked us to install a particular virtual background. My computer couldn’t install the background. A couple of us couldn’t so the “group picture” didn’t have the uniformity that they desired.

In the meantime we’ll decide each time we log into a meeting if it’s going to be one of “those” meetings.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

One Comment
  1. Fred permalink

    “Some choose to work in their pajamas. In fact, even with video conferences, many choose to not wear pants. Sweat pants, shorts, pajama pants.”

    Only if you’re unprofessional, and need removing from the company.

    “We each have different dress standards. And in a meeting, a real life meeting, we each spend a lot of time not looking at each other. But, in a video conference, it always feel awkward to stare or be stared at.”

    Only if you’re unprofessional and need removing from the company.

    Video meetings are great. They let us readily identify the first dross to get rid of if we DO get in to financial issues because of COVID.

    You can be a professional and do your job or you can get the hell out. Either is fine.

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