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Archive for the ‘Meeting’ Category

Zoom In, Zone Out

In Interpersonal, Meeting, Office humor on May 25, 2020 at 19:32

Man is a social animal but the ego is highly anti-social. Most of life seems paradoxical and there never seems to be enough time to sit and ponder. Well, now there is time, lot’s of it. But it seems to drift away. And that is boredom defined: Finding each passing moment excruciating and yet not knowing where all the time went.

It is already 20 minutes into the online meeting and they still haven’t got past the pleasantries. You want to switch off your video and be free to dig your nose or just stare at the fan. But that wouldn’t be polite now would it? Things have definitely changed under lockdown but your employer is still trying to hold on to the old ways. A mixture of nostalgia and denial. But one must admit, Zoom calls are very realistic, down to people being late and nothing of substance being discussed for close to two hours.

It is a meeting that has already been rescheduled four times. In the real world colleagues would have compelling alibis for not being able to make it. Dentists appointments, in-laws visiting, son’s football practice on Wednesdays. Arun would always claim he had to go with his son for football practice but he would end up attending the meetings anyway…custody battles are tough. You would think online meetings would be easier. But people still find ways to keep themselves busy and hammered, anything but sitting still with their thoughts. Now they suddenly feel the urge to connect with their distant siblings, attend Zoomba sessions and the PTA meetings have also moved online

Since you are still being paid, while being in shorts, you can’t complain. But greater than the mockery of productivity is the horror of peeking into the lives of your colleagues. You always suspected they had a life but without all the social media filters, it looks very surreal, like a hacker movie.

The broken switchboards, mosquito lamps, kids fighting in the background, dogs peeking in, bad camera angles compounding bad hair days. Pat has a Swiss Alps background wallpaper but he was always pretentious. You finally see that the old man from accounts actually has legs! He is moving around more at his house than he ever did in office, the only image you have of him is behind a cubicle. And you are glad Arun actually has a house. You would always see him changing clothes in office, especially on Wednesdays. Actually you are sort of glad to see everyone in their humble avatars. Even Head Slave, as he tries to sound spontaneous while clearly reading from another window. You can see the reflection in his glasses.

Since everyone is being themselves you also take a break unannounced and come back towards the end of the meeting. They are still exchanging pleasantries. One of them even suggested playing Ludo, on company time! It is met with no objection but thankfully no interest either. It is clear that there is no work to be done. But man is a social animal. And thankfully, loneliness is often stronger than the ego.

  • Punit Pania

Con Call

In Meeting, Office humor, Wage Slaves on June 24, 2013 at 02:28

There are 5 distinct voices, maybe six. And they all sound anxious.  Maybe not anxious. But definitely edgy. Each seems to be having an agenda at odds with the others. None sounds like it wants to be there. There is tension mounting but on the surface,  civility prevails.

Reservoir Dogs Poster 1

This is not a Tarantino movie. It’s just the latest in a string of cross-functional meetings. Offcourse, the word meeting is only notional.  The modern knowledge worker is not bound by trivialities like location or even gravity. All five cons on the con call are in different locations,  conditions and even time zones. You are the sixth one having assumed the safer role of chronicler with tempers flying high elsewhere.

Star Trek Delphi

Grumpy Con 1: “You are not getting the point.”

Grumpy Con 2: “No, you are not getting the point! ”

Reluctant project lead: “Can we summarise what we have agreed on till now?”

Grumpy Con 2: “No, we have not agreed on anything. ”

Reluctant project lead: “Can we atleast try?”

Suicidal Con 4: “Ok, but we would only be wasting more time.”

Somewhat sane Con 5: “I think we should take this from the start.”

(Collective sigh)

You: “Yeah, why not?”

And thus starts the second hour of this fruitful discussion. A large group of civilians are to be counselled at a health camp in the coming week as a CSR initiative. But one of your ‘channel partners’ has backed out citing unforseen circumstances. It is now up to you to call off the camp altogether or foot the bill from contingency funds.

The choice would be simple enough if customers were your priority as the textbooks will have you believe. But there too many managers and no ownership in the concoction of this broth. Everything from company image to Act of God is cited to call off the event and go into damage control mode. But nothing about the clueless souls who will line up next week as promised.

But we digress.  For the chronicler cannot afford emotion to creep in as bias. He should, he must report events and actions, or lack thereof as they happen,  no matter how uninspiring.

Dilbert Conference call

Deep into the second hour, energy levels of all cons are sapping, even con 3-the coffee junkie. Traffic,  crying babies and blaring speakers can be heard in the backgrounds of the various participants. Con 2’s voice is booming and echoing like a megalomaniac at the end of a tiresome Bond film. You must have spoken the least in the last hundred minutes but have enjoyed the melee the most. You have also managed to sqeeze in some light exercise,  tea and dinner along with newspaper skimming in this time.

simpsons phone-call

Grumpy Con 1: “Raj? Can we go ahead with these assumptions?”

Grumpy Con 2: “No, I don’t see how we can. But I leave it upto Raj.”

Grumpy Con 1: “Raj, what do you think? Surely we can…”

Grumpy Con 2: “Raj, can you hear us?”

Grumpy Con 1: “Raj you there? Hello?”

Raj, by the way, is the project lead and he seems to have bailed on this brain swarming session a long time ago. And no one even noticed. So impressed are you by this single decisive act that you decide to drop off the call yourself.

The Office Project-Manager

And nothing happens. No reminders or reprimands,  no contingencies or consequence. Too many managers, no ownership.  Too much progress, no contentment.

– J.