To Zoom or to Teams

by Norma Aubertin-Potter

O ne of the consequences of the lockdown in March was having to leave the office for an unspecified time and from then on to rely on electronic meetings.

For one who had never heard of 'Zoom' or 'Teams' and having limited expertise on a computer, this was a very steep learning curve. My very first Teams meeting — which fell within two weeks of being on lockdown — was a meeting with an estimated 60 other people looking into a new development in the storage of archival material. The representative of the firm trying to sell us his wonder project was stuck in Spain, and so the host was a person in some far away office in Oxford.

We were admitted to the meeting electronically and then told to turn off our cameras [er ... no idea how to do that ...] so I hoped for the best and kept mine on.

Concentrating madly on the technical aspects of the new project I suddenly had a stern message on the screen telling me to turn off my camera. After a panic, I was finally talked though getting rid of my image and what I thought was a depiction of a lorry on the task bar was actually a camera! It took me a while to recover my nerve. I have no idea why I thought it was a lorry — it is obvious it is a camera!

But over the months I have slowly got used to having electronic meetings, seeing a multitude of faces on one screen — both with friends and with business colleagues — few whose homes I have seen have suddenly become open venues. Now I can admire the books on the shelves behind them. As a retired librarian, I find reading habits fascinating. And in one wonderful meeting I was distracted by the display of ceramics behind one of the speakers. This was unfortunate because as I was Secretary of that particular meeting, I forgot myself and missed some vital remarks.

I have also learnt to mute myself should I leave the room as I have discovered that offstage noises, kettle, bathroom are picked up by the computer quite easily. A group of friends enjoyed a long chat I had with the postman when he delivered a parcel one day. And they also, on another occasion, found amusing a phone call I had during one meeting. And having been told by a number of friends they could almost hear the snoring when on one or two occasions I fell asleep during one zoom meeting of a local club I belong to, I now turn the camera off if I feel the eyelids dropping.

And why is it cats get in on the act — many occasions I have been sternly looked at by the owner's cat. One cat gave a very detailed wash behind the ears before settling down to take part in the meeting. You could hear the very loud purring.

But all this is very well, but I can't help wishing for a return to meeting people physically either in a room or just sitting chatting with friends in a café.

Hopefully, by this time next year it will all be over like a horrible dream.

SEE ALSO by Norma Aubertin-Potter:
My Father and the Merchant Navy
Honoured at Oxford
My Lockdown Books
To Zoom or to Teams
Future Historians and the Pandemic of 2020

Norma Aubertin-Potter is a resident of Kidlington Village and a member of the Kidlington and District Historical Society.

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