21 Things a Year of Video Conferencing Has Taught Me

I was on a call the other day with my client in Canada.

‘You’re my first video call of the day,’ she said. We always call early in her day as we have an eight-hour time difference. ‘After you, I have seven more video calls, back to back.’

That was her Monday.

Depending on your job, this may sound familiar.

I used to video conference before 2020, having clients in other corners of the world, but never to this extent.

Intensive video conferencing has taught me lots.

It has taken me on a journey of self discovery.

If you are looking for some serious takeaways about how to better use platforms like Zoom, you can stop reading now.

Want a light-hearted look at pandemic life? Carry on.

1. I have started to live in my kitchen

Not quite sure how or why this happened. I have been home-based for years, and have a rather delightful office to accommodate that, but something happened back last March. Oh yeah, that’s right my social life disappeared, as did all my travel. My solitary work existence was suddenly no longer compensated by the odd plane trip and sipping rosé in European bars. Loneliness set in.

2. I really quite like my kitchen

Never paid it that much attention before, but it gets all the sunlight in the morning and when I don’t want to work, I can watch the comings and goings of my street and feel less alone (c/f point 1)

3. The neighbour opposite makes me feel better about my parallel parking

Maybe I do stare out of the window more than at my actual screen?

4. I never use those fancy backdrops

You know the ones that look like a Greek island, or, more recently, a sparse Scandinavian hygge-style flat. It’s not that I am technically incapable. I just really like my kitchen tiles. I did them myself and they were a bastard to drill in order to get the shelves up. My attempts at DIY merit recognition.

5. My postman always calls at 11am

He doesn’t always ring twice. Invariably he shouts through the open window.

6. I generally forget about point 5 …

A lot of my clients are now quite familiar with my postman.

7. I have a face for the phone

This has been mentioned to me before. I have a face that seems to express my every thought at any one time. This does not lend itself to very long, circular meetings. Who knew?

8. I don’t learn from experience

Each and every day, I forget to plug in my laptop to the power. Having left the meeting once to greet the postman, I often have to leave again to find my cable.

9. Your bladder weakens with age

I’m not sure mine was ever brilliant. I don’t think I should be unduly worried. I’m not wetting myself. Yet.

10. I drink more tea than ever

This is not helping point 9, but I don’t care as I like tea, unless it is green (see point 19).

11. Too much video conferencing leads to addictions

And I’m not talking booze or drugs here (or the unsuspectingly dangerous, hot drink called tea), but the Boggle word game on my phone.

12. I go for quality over quantity

Not talking about video conferencing (although did anyone think of doing less calls?). Still talking about Boggle. According to my arch-opponent, Mary, this is why I sometimes lose.

13. My cat is more interesting than me

Of course, he is. He drinks water from a glass using his paw. I have no such party tricks. Although I have started drinking wine from the bottle (once I have cut the video).

14. I’m not sure my job is that interesting

Now the odd trip around Europe and socialising in cafés has been taken away, the nuts and bolts of it is maybe, just maybe, a bit dull.

15. I have a book in me

In fact I have just finished writing it. It has been my pandemic project to compensate for all the video conferencing. I fitted it in around trying to beat Mary at Boggle.

16. Most people are as bored as I am

Just lately I have noticed this more and more, particularly people in my line of work (international investment) who are all grounded. I have had very interesting conversations about cycling socks, breast feeding (haven’t done that for 14 years) and how to grow tomatoes.

17. I might try growing tomatoes again

Last year was a disaster, but I think I have learnt the error of my ways.

18. I don’t respond well to a wall of blackness

I get it. We’ve all had enough of video calls, but presenting to a wall of cut cameras saps all the will to live from a person. I imagine it’s what being lost in space without oxygen is like. How about less video calls instead? Did we mention that before?

19. Green tea is not better for your health

Not for your mental health in any case. And not when you spill a cup over your laptop.

20. Never buy electronics on Black Friday

Certainly not when it coincides with the re-opening of shops in France, except if you have no other choice as your soggy MacBook doesn’t work anymore and you have a day full of video calls planned for the next day.

That doesn’t make sense, I hear you cry. The day after Friday is Saturday! But for the French Black Friday runs a whole week. I know, it’s weird, but to be fair the French have always had trouble with American concepts.

21. I am no good at structuring lists to a round number

Let me know what video conferencing has brought you these last few months … Happy video conferencing everyone!

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