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This article was published on December 29, 2020

We need to make remote meetings more boring in 2021

The fate of the 'new normal' depends on it... kinda.

We need to make remote meetings more boring in 2021 Image by: icons8 (edited)

It’s been a tough year of pivoting, remote work, and conceptualizing the ‘new normal.’ But as we enter a new year, it’s time to take stock of how we’ve operated professionally and what we’ll take with us into 2021.

So when exactly was the last time life was good? Was it when you were huddled up with your coworkers by the watercooler or spending time with your loved ones? No, it was when you were watching The Office — and therein lies our solution for next year.

With new vaccines on the horizon, things are looking brighter and we’ll probably be able to return to many of our pre-corona traditions. But despite that, the entrepreneurial and business communities seem obsessed with the idea that the ‘new normal’ is here to stay.

But my problem with the ‘new normal’ is that it sounds too perfect. Companies and startups are meant to open up to remote work completely, perfecting asynchronous work, and guaranteeing increased productivity with the flexibility to work during your personal ‘peak performance’ hours.

All of this is missing an essential part of what makes a baseline, a sustainable ‘normal’: boredom.

We’re far from being perfect beings, so I believe we’ll always need to work in some imperfections into our operations. Now how do we achieve that? By taking a page out of The Office playbook.

So here’s my *fuego* take on how to make the ‘new normal’ work: make remote meetings even more boring.

Divisive and brave, I know. Not sure ‘hero’ is the right word to describe me, but I understand it comes to mind when you read this.

Before I drop some knowledge on you, just let me be clear: I’m not saying that endless Zoom calls aren’t frustrating and awful, it’s just that they don’t reach peak boringness, where its beauty is released. They’re just half-assed boringness.

It’s all too easy to just turn off your camera, surf the web, check messages and tweets, and pretty much carry on with the mindless internet habits that you use to fill every other void in your life.

What’s wrong with that? Well, I’ll tell you, we can veer off into deep existential dread because we’re overly-stimulated, instead of embracing the meeting’s banality. This isn’t just me saying it, it’s science (probably).

The Office taught us that in-person meetings, however, prevent you from diverting straight into existential dread, because you’re too occupied having the life sucked out of you in a stuffy meeting room. The camaraderie between you and your coworkers when you see the light in each other’s eyes slowly extinguish in unison is the principle the modern world was built on…

And here’s how you can capture that feeling: BEHOLD, THE BOUNCING DVD LOGO SITE!

Just like when The Office gang obsessed over whether a DVD icon could hit the corner of the screen, you can do the same in your next Zoom call with this neat little site.

As nerdy mathematicians have shown, the logo can actually hit a corner on DVD players. But what’s tricky about the site is that you can adjust the size of the window yourself and the logo will change its bouncing accordingly — adding a whole new exciting layer to your boredom.

Credit: Bill Green
Nerd speak for bouncy logo stuff.

Now while most business leaders have tried to find new ways to make remote meetings more engaging — like always starting off with a collaborative video game — I’d like to argue my call for boringness also addresses engagement. You can’t be bored if you’re not fully engaged with how tedious something is, as any distraction would alleviate your boredom. Checkmate.

Having the hypnotizing DVD logo on next to the slides in a monotonous Zoom meeting hits the sweet spot of engagement and utter boredom. It gives you a certain sense of progression, while not taking away too much of your attention.

I already tried the DVD logo out with a couple of my colleagues, and they claimed it had actually gone into the corner TWICE! Not saying they’re liars, but I somehow missed it both times.

So if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to monitoring my beautiful bouncing DVD logo. Let me know how your boring meetings go in 2021.

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