We have entered Month 147 – er, uh, I mean, 12 – of the virus-related restricted life. Despite the rollout of two vaccines, there is very little light at the end of the tunnel on this plague. Here in North Carolina, the people have been organized into 5 groups of priority to get vaccinated. They are only just now about to enter group 3. The Mrs and I, having health conditions that define us as “high-risk,” are in group 4. So we, and a ton of others around the state, will not be getting vaccinated any time soon. So we keep trudging along with all the restrictions and risks associated with opening your front door. I am glad we aren’t in a place like California, which keeps moving back toward total lockdown. But it’s still not fun to spend all this time inside, especially when 1 or more people in your home are more than a little worried that going anywhere could result in the virus coming home.
The plague has introduced a big chunk of the world to the concepts of remote working and video conferencing. This is further destroying some cherished workplace myths. Back in the ‘90s, companies figured out that people could actually get work done without showing up dressed in formal cocktail attire. Connectivity advances in the first part of the 21st century allowed some forward-thinking companies to allow some functions to be carried out remotely. Then the plague hit, and just about everyone had to pivot to working remotely. Shocking as it may have been to many executives, the company business actually continued to get done. In fact, business got done so efficiently that many large organizations have made some functions remote on a permanent basis. Thanks to broadband internet, Virtual Private Networks, and video conferencing, teams can continue to collaborate no matter their location. (Hopefully, the next step in the evolution will be abandoning the 40-hour workweek. I’ll talk about that more in a future post.)
But while video conferencing has been a godsend for productivity, many people are getting sick of it. “When this is over, I don’t ever want to get on a Zoom call ever again” is a sentence I’ve heard a lot lately. Zoom meetings are just as tiring as in-person meetings, to be sure. This past Wednesday I spent 4 hours on Zoom calls. I slept very soundly that night. Even so, I can’t get enough of them.
Everyone has their quirks – you know, taking a specific route when multiple routes are available, only wanting one specific brand of peanut butter, doing a series of tasks in one, specific order, etc. One of my quirks is that I despise talking on the phone. Actually, this is more a case of PTSD than a quirk. Early in my career, I had a job in a bank call center. It was a miserable experience. You’re hog-tied to a phone and have to sit there and listen to morons tell you that their account is NOT overdrawn, because they still have unused checks. (Yes, that REALLY happened.) I was actually relieved when I got fired. Then, years later, I was the Executive Assistant to a company VP. He moved 1,000 mph all the time. He also got a gazillion emails every day. Many days he would be traveling to meet some of our largest business customers. He would call me while driving and have me read his emails to him. So again, I would have many occasions to be hog-tied to a telephone. So, at this point, I would rather jam ice picks under my toenails than spend any time on the telephone.
The Zoom world has been a wonderful antidote. I get to actually SEE the people I’m meeting with. One of my Wednesday meetings was with some men from church. We enjoyed some powerful Bible study along with some epic trash-talk. One of the guys emerged from the call with the nickname Shadrach. If all of this were audio-only, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as impactful.
So, not only do I not have Zoom fatigue, I want more Zoom as long as this stupid plague is still running. Am I the only one? If not, let me know in the comments. If you do have Zoom fatigue, what is it that has fatigued you? Let me know that as well.