Not Zoom Fails but Zoom Feels

Toby Martin
April 8, 2020

During this most pressing and anxious time in many people’s lives, we’re beginning to see signs of humanity in places they may have previously gone unnoticed. This shift toward our emotional well-being is a place we should explore, expand, and embrace.

Many times in my own past I’ve moved straight onto work topics and forgotten to take a moment and ask everyone how they’re doing, how’s their family, and how they are feeling? It’s too easy to treat one another as only colleagues trying to accomplish an end result, which leaves a great distance in the relationship. Now it’s frequent to spend the first few minutes of meetings just catching up personally. A virtual water-cooler if you will.

Recently, we’ve seen a pleasant shift that I personally love. At Extensis, we’re getting to know each other in more personal ways. Over the last few weeks we’ve all been doing more video meetings, which used to be all about the YouTube Zoom-fails, but I love them for the more human Zoom-feels. Some of my favorites include:

  • One of our developer’s toddlers squirming and fussing during a call, and then weighing in on a critical technical decision. I think we have a future developer in the making!
  • The frequent entry of cats and dogs – I cannot say how many times I’ve seen this happen and it’s hilarious. Their timing is impeccable.
  • The merger of family time & work time – teens or young kids needing mom or dad to deal with some emergency (like a sibling “not sharing” or “I can’t find my shoe”), or an iPad issue, or not realizing the webcam is on (gasp!). It’s given me the opportunity to meet many family members of my colleagues.
  • More sharing of our workspaces, pictures we take on walks, interesting and creative Zoom backgrounds, and so forth. Now there’s more of a creative license to show other sides of our personalities.

Another corollary benefit is that we’re all being more tolerant of things that in the past may have caused issues. Everyone is working on home networks with spouses or partners, and in many cases children who are also online, leading to dropped connections in the middle of meetings. Animals, interruptions and having a meeting with a small child on your lap have all become commonplace. Which I believe is for the betterment of us all. When we emerge from this crisis, I truly hope we all remember the world didn’t end when a cat blocked a webcam and that the job can still be done while playing mom or dad first.

It’s refreshing to see all these sides of co-workers that we typically wouldn’t have. While we’re all being impacted in numerous and stressful ways, a positive outcome is that we all get to be more human than we previously had. This situation is focusing us on what is and isn’t important. In order it’s: health, family, and jobs, which can easily be confused and forgotten, even momentarily.

A new pet was recently added to the Extensis family, a 11-year old’s birthday present from ambivalent parents.


This cat had to weigh in on a critical marketing decision, you WILL HEAR ME!


Amy’s son Jackson painting rainbows on their house for passersby to have their day brightened.


Modified workspaces, including taking over the family RV, all show more about us than we would otherwise have an opportunity to view.


Sharing the pictures of painful projects we’d been putting off, but now undertaking to fight cabin fever.