Who’s Zoomin’ who?

As we grow used to a world of Zoom calls and distanced collaboration, Patrick Burgoyne speculates on what longer-term changes may arise from the lockdown

Alongside hand-drawn rainbows and empty streets, the Zoom window has become an abiding image of lockdown. Advertising for banks, supermarkets and any other business wishing to reassure us they remain ‘here for us in these unprecedented times’ has made liberal use of the Zoom call aesthetic, reflecting the working reality for so many of us.

The intriguing question now is how what we have learned at this time of crisis will inform the longer term: how much of our new life, developed in extremis, will stick? And will this crisis lead us into new ways of coming together as a community to think, make, debate, learn and connect?

This isn’t going to be one of those ‘everything has changed forever’ articles because it hasn’t, and it won’t. As I write this, we’ve had just over two months of shouting at each other from our kitchens. Two months. And what we’ve learned is that days of back-to-back Zoom calls are hard. There’s a world of difference between enduring this as a temporary solution and committing to it permanently. We know we can work like this now, but we also know that we probably wouldn’t want to do it all the time.