Leading the charge – why we've cancelled Zoom

Let’s face it – the past six months have been tough. We’ve baked focaccia, bought a variety of plants, downloaded (but never used) Duolingo, fixed up the house, fixed up the garden, exercised more, exercised less, grown some vegetables, grown some interesting hairstyles and, my god, we’ve Zoomed.

Lockdown forced everyone to embrace the much-maligned video call, historically far, far down the list of preferred means of communication. The awkward silences, the misunderstood body language, the technical difficulties...it all seemed a bit of a hassle.

But, like the malleable creatures we are, we adapted. Before opening our Waterloo office the Collaborative Creations team worked remotely, so we were no strangers to the odd video call. It can be great for easy, remote, collaborative working. However, over long periods of time we weren’t only ones to experience what might be described as “Zoom fatigue”.

Back-to-back video calls can be exhausting, especially when you’re expected to be high energy in an environment that makes it extremely difficult to bounce off another person’s body language.

It was too much; it had to stop. At heart we’re events people. We thrive off in-person interaction and have built a business out of our love of live events, and ability to operate in that world.

We cancelled our Zoom Pro subscription. Gasp.

We care deeply about our safety and that of the people we come into contact with, but as soon as we were able to do so we were back out in the world having face-to-face meetings, even if that meant outdoors, with masks and social distancing.

If we truly want live events to return, we have to experience the new reality that we’re living in, and discover what’s needed to make it work for us.

In recent days we’ve had some real blows to our industry – with the tightening of restrictions regarding groups of people and the pushback of the 1 October start date for sport events, conferences and business events by up to six months.

But this makes it even more important to meet with our friends and colleagues, understand how to navigate the rules of this new reality and have the open, honest, spontaneous (and safe!) conversations that will get the events industry moving again.

Video calls still have a place in our working lives, but they’re now the exception rather than the rule. Caution has to be balanced within innovation, because as we’ve learned from government reactions to the plight of the events industry – if we’re going to be saved we’ll have to do it ourselves, and the first step is the one out the front door.