Zoom Fatigue Has Destroyed Our Firm


A Business Parable:
The Transparent Lament of a Defeated Leader

I thought we were better than this. I thought we were resilient. Poised. Professional. But alas, after 18 years on the front lines of video communication and digital interaction, sadly, we have lost our way. In just 10 weeks, our elite group of virtual collaborators has been reduced to a steaming hot mess. With every Zoom call, it is more apparent to me that we are now simply an isolated band of Covidiots, manifesting our dysfunction in the most unprofessional of manners. Where shall I begin?

Monday Morning Unabomber

Let me start with our Monday Morning Unabomber. Is showering really that difficult? It’s not like you have a commute. And the sunglasses—are you planning a trip to Michigan to experience the polar vortex? Sure, show up to our client meetings looking like a domestic terrorist. That’s great for business. And let’s lose the hoodie this week, huh? Maybe take a hint from Hat-Donning Hank

Hat-Donning Hank

This guy. Dude, nothing screams  “I’m-a-creative-so-I-don’t-have-follow-a-dress-code” like wearing a hat to every. Single. Meeting. How is it that you’re a fan of every team in every sport? You know what I’m a fan of? You presenting work to the CMO of our Fortune 50 client without a ball cap on. Do you think he cares who you root for, or that you went to Hawai’i and all you got was a hat? How about you stop trying to bring attention to yourself and turn that spotlight on the client.

Cosmetic Connie

Speaking of spotlights, hey, Cosmetic Connie, that monitor screen, the one with the client on the other side of it? Yeah, it ain’t a mirror. A client meeting is no time to be reinforcing your foundation and touching up your eyelashes. Adolescence is over. Maybe if you applied yourself more to technology trends than you do that powder blue eyeshadow, we’d actually have more followers on social media.

Steve the ‘Stache

And Steve The Stache, you actually could use a mirror. Have you looked in one lately? Because there’s a thing out there called a razor. I mean, how can I trust you to manage client expectations when you can’t even manage your facial hair? I know you can’t leave your place, but hellooo, Dollar Shave Club, anyone? In case you hadn’t noticed, your rock-star-road-crew days are behind you. Just like the guitars and randomly stacked books in your apartment we get to see on every call. Maybe you need to get out more like Fair Weather Wendy, our amazingly obnoxious REI-type.

Fair Weather Wendy

None of us is immune, we’ve all been tainted by this stay-at-home-shelter-in-place-work-from-home reality.

Yes, we get it. You’re cooped up. Welcome to the new reality, love. We’re all inside. But you don’t see the rest of us on a Zoom meeting with a client shaking our cameras while walking from our apartments to some dark stairwell, only to pop out on the roof, deeply inhale, and then stretch like you’ve reached the summit of Everest. Well, good for you. We’re all dizzy now, and the client is feeling even worse about being stuck at home and sheltering in place … just like Daycare Deprived Dave, here.

Daycare Deprived Dave

Sure, the pandemic has really tested the whole work-life balance thing, but do you have to take a creative presentation meeting in the playroom? We can see the Lego tower and train set in the background. And we can certainly hear the screaming in between failed attempts at timing your taps on mute. Mute is not that hard of a concept! 

Always Mute Mike

Except for Always Mute Mike who is apparently still learning how to master a globally recognized icon he uses daily. Seeing your never-ending, unheard monologues is like watching a ’70s Kung Fu movie. Want to make it more painful, Mike? Ask me again if I can hear you after you didn’t get the reaction you were expecting. Dude, we can’t hear you … ever!

Netflix Nancy

But you know what we can hear? Whatever Netflix Nancy is obviously watching while on a call with a client. Her eyes darting to and fro. Her strategically placed iPad is such a giveaway. What’s it this week, Nance? Too hot to handle? So glad I bought you that “productivity tool.” 

But perhaps the worst part about all of this is that I too have fallen prey to the cultural phenomenon of Zoom fatigue. I won’t think twice before showing up to a client meeting with a bowl of cherries or some other snack. So, there I am, the CEO (Chief Eating Officer), caught on multiple occasions spitting pits between client comments. I’m listening, I promise.

Chief Eating Officer

None of us is immune, we’ve all been tainted by this stay-at-home-shelter-in-place-work-from-home reality. And like everyone else, it’s wearing on us. I only hope we can get back to normal soon, share some good food and great cocktails, and go on a ridiculous corporate boondoggle to remind ourselves of why we used to like each other. 

Now, where did I put those cherries?

All in good fun, 

Sal Fuentes

Sal is all about the high-level message, the perfect soundbite, the smoothing of the complex and finding dog friendly venues to hang with Stabler.