Zoom spreading

One of the amazing effects of being locked down during the current pandemic, which has just passed its first anniversary, has been the rapidity with which everybody – or in any event many people working from home – have adapted, and had to adapt, to working pretty much entirely online. In many ways, however, this is not work as usual. For one thing, self-isolation and being largely tethered to one’s home has created the expectation that one is always available – unless one is in another zoom meeting. The effect of this is what I would describe as ‘zoom spreading’ whereby online meetings, whatever platform they occur on, have now infiltrated every working day, and to a much greater extent in terms of numbers of meetings, than before the pandemic. Many meetings require ‘tech check’ pre-meetings, as well as pre-meeting meetings to discuss the process of the meetings to be had etc. It’s rather reminiscent of the workings of Charles Dickens’ Circumlocution Office where metadiscursivity takes up as much, ney sometimes more, space than discursivity – so to speak. But this new normal of having several online meetings every day, of the assumption that you are never off, also brings with it new distortions of one’s working life, with little time for tasks that are not or do not involve meetings. Time to research, read and write is at a new and unprecedented premium, an effect of zoom spreading. I am as guilty as the next person in respect of this but: we need to learn to guard against this.

Gabriele Griffin  

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