Is it ok to zoom with someone in the same office?

Folks, I usually come to you with a point of view. But I am not sure what the etiquette is. So, I thought I’d try to start a conversation.

This moment in time

The country is reopening. In some parts of the USA, people have completely returned to work. In others, there’s still a lot of “hybrid work.” Some folks are full-time in the office, others are still at home, and still others come in a few days a week. It seems like a lot of workplaces are planning for a permanent work-from-home presence. It has been very popular with people. Many folks say it fosters work-life balance and eliminates the stress of long commutes. Keeping telecommuters also allows businesses to find talented workers from outside the area. It’s a win on a lot of levels.

Keeping tabs on everyone

The days of walking past someone’s cube are probably over. Yes it’s true that the risk of getting sick is pretty minimal at the moment. But, if you walk over to someone’s workspace, you just may not find them there. They may be working from home, or just from another part of the building.

Depending on local guidelines, it still may not be appropriate to bring large groups together in a small area for meetings. To some degree apps like Slack and Teams make it easy to share little bits of information, but what about whole face-to-face meetings?

So is it ok to zoom with others in the same building?

It seems to me that the best way to keep work-from-home folks on par with work-from-work folks, and keep everyone safe, is to keep up our current regimen of Zoom (or Teams, Skype, Google Meet, Webex, or whatever floats your boat) meetings. Now, I’ll admit the idea of spending the rest of my career listening to someone say “You’re still muted” is nightmare stuff to me. The scourge known as Zoom hasn’t been the worst part of the last year-and-a-half. Far from it. Zoom and apps like it have made it possible for us to stay safe. But, there comes a point where enough is enough.

And yet, as heinous as videoconferences are, I think they’re here to stay. I think that you’ll spend more time in the future communicating this way. Think of it as a logical extension of emails. Remember when it felt weird to email someone two cubicles over? At first it was sort of a secret club between the two of you, where you could silently trade information without being seen. The same illicit glee came when you started texting with people across the room. Well, it may not seem like as much of a thrill, but I have a feeling you’ll be zooming with anyone outside your field of vision for a while to come.

What do you think?

Is this a good idea, good safe science, or is it just another sign of the decline of western civilization as we know it? I’d love to get a good conversation going here. Should I send you all a Zoom invite so we can discuss it?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.