Sharing too much is too easy in the age of zoom
Since the Industrial Revolution, work has typically been framed like a painting on the wall. In the center is the artwork, which is then surrounded by a white space buffer and then a frame. This blank was the time to and from work. Like a picture frame, it mentally helped us to separate the image from the background noise.
The seven-hour commute by bus, car, ferry, or train each morning to get to work enabled us to prepare for the day ahead. By some miracle, our transportation systems could have deposited us at our workplace around the appointed time, our home life was nothing more than a distant memory, and the frustrations of the journey were simply the ticket to the day of frustrations that followed. looming.
But we lost the frame during COVID-19. The transition from home to work is timed by clicking on a link. It’s as fast as a Star Trek teleporter. This has caused our muesli to leak onto the faces of our colleagues, courtesy of Teams, Zoom, and Facetime, soon to be renamed MealTime.
The long business lunch and breakfast has been around for a long time, and even chewing on a keyboard while working through lunch was commonplace in offices across the country. However, screen-mediated meetings allow for close intimacy quite different from normal business meals. It is like going from two people sharing a table in a restaurant to a couple sharing a dessert, quite uncomfortable if one is your colleague who does not want what you are eating.
After a year or more of getting used to video conferencing, people still don’t realize how their disregard for the boundary between work and home is putting off their colleagues. Rarely in a normal business meeting would anyone, except a case of frontal lobotomy, be so uninhibited as to seriously consider eating a three-course meal. In Zoom, suddenly my kitchen rules!
Similarly, no one would seriously ask their colleagues mid-meeting to follow them into the dining room while they make a cup of tea, but in Teams, everyone gets dizzy from following a nervous camera on their journey through a tea ceremony.
Forgetting to at least wear a shirt or anything else has been documented for fun, but when it happens routinely, it can drive others crazy. Regular readers will know I’m a huge fan of flexible work, but please, it’s time to frame your home life and put work front and center when cameras roll.
Jim Bright, FAPS is a professor of education and professional development at ACU and is the owner of Bright and Associates, a professional management consultancy. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright