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ZoomBombed... The Perils of Working From Home

It has happened to some of us... and for many, it becomes just a simple laugh or minor distraction. Becoming "zoombombed" by a family member in the background of your team meeting can be deadly to your career. Though this event may show a side of you that your project team has never seen, or make you the talk of the town for your fellow classmates, it pales in comparison to the rash of trolls hacking into meetings.

When this pandemic began, Zoom jumped to the forefront as a key tool for homebound students, workers, and families trying to stay connected. Early adoption of this platform was prime new ground for internet trolls, hackers, and others looking to disrupt with an unwanted intrusion. In a typical Zoombombing incident, a session could be hijacked by the insertion of lewd, racist, obscene, or even homophobic material. Zoombombing has caused significant issues for schools, companies, and organizations worldwide and resulted in increased scrutiny on Zoom as well as restrictions on usage of the platform by educational, corporate, and governmental institutions globally. In response, Zoom took measures to increase the security of its teleconferencing application. But our "tongue in cheek" post here is focused on the true learning moment to help prevent the "harmless" intrusion of a family member.

By now, most of us have "fixed" our teleconference settings by creating our meeting invites with specifics such as a password to join, shutting down the incoming video by turning off the camera/audio options upon entry, and enabling waiting rooms for your meeting guests.

However, a quick visit from a family pet tends to turn a "talking head" into a cooing human as we steer off-topic. Your independent feline taking a stroll across your keyboard, or a sneaky dog sitting in the background will break the boredom and create a moment of chaos as you shoo them away. My Samoyed has a unique stealth ability to quietly sneak into the background of many meetings by nosing open the well-posted door. This event is often to let me know I have been mean by missing the scheduled "cookie break". Often a team member will call out to say hi to her, THAT is typically when I see her. Nowadays, her appearance is more of a nice distraction than a discouraged intrusion.

Children, on the other hand, seeking a snack or lunch, to tell a tattle-tale story on their siblings, or a sneak attack by a spouse or partner can invoke a snicker or create a loud outburst. But it tends to be harmless enough, though possibly an embarrassing moment. We live with pets and other humans, posting a sign on the door may not work, after all, it is their home too and they are also weary from being "locked up".


Here are some tips to reduce the intrusion, if you want to limit the distraction, or when the meeting is a critical call that could decide the fate of the world...

As I briefly mentioned a sign on the door has proven to stop older children or a partner or spouse from entering. Adding a lock inside the room or door may also prove useful to prevent the younger humans or pets, who can't read, or chose to ignore the sign, from coming in. A fellow colleague has a triangular piece of wood jammed under the door to prevent it from opening from her side, but that has a tendency to create a noisy pounding on the door... "Mom, are you in a meeting or watching your soaps on the computer?"

For some, creating a bulletin board of daily activities can serve to let everyone inside the locked-down compound know the times when quiet is needed. This idea has legs when the inmates are old enough to know, read, or care about the ongoing day's schedule of fun!

A family I know that lives down the street has two "work from home" parents with children in school. They have developed a unique partnership and schedule work meetings around the children's classwork by scheduling their teleconferences with their respective companies and hold their meetings before and after the kid's classwork. Every family could benefit from this "meeting" planning, I thought was an awesome idea and I'm glad to share this with my coworkers.

Something I have found has potential and shields your coworkers from seeing the cobwebs on the ceiling, is popular by the use of a background. Simply take a picture and place it in your photo folder and using the caret next to the Video button (see the red arrow) pick a background. I like using the view below from the northern branch of my office. It is a spectacular view of Mount Washington New Hampshire in winter, just outside my back door. With proper lighting, this background "green screen effect" will "hide" those walking behind you and gives the viewer a nicer visual. By the way, ever notice when someone is interviewed on TV that you are constantly looking at things in their home background?? Distracting isn't it...

As we move forward through the world today, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, the light is NOT a train, it is the bright light of normalcy. It will arrive, but the time is still TBD. When it does arrive we will be better humans, a more tech-savvy workforce and that includes our remote learning children. Think of the distractions we have faced and the new world in front of us... this will keep us going until the next fantastic zoombomb video!!

Enjoy my friends...


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