Most Zoom Calls are a Waste of Time

Steve Glaveski
5 min readApr 1, 2020

It took a global pandemic for organisations to finally embrace remote work at scale.

This forced experiment is in many respects a long overdue one.

I recall being a senior consultant at Ernst & Young in 2011, and thinking to myself that I could have been working remotely much of the time.

A decade ago, we had remote-access VPN with two-factor authentication to log in to our team’s shared files, email and our IM platform. We could get stuff done from virtually anywhere.

But while the capability was there, company culture was, and continued to lag far behind until COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

Different Workplace, Same Bad Habits

Today, Twitter feeds are populated with giddy professionals taking 10-person team selfies to celebrate a new way of work.

But as I wrote in The Five Levels of Remote Work, most teams are at what Automattic founder, Matt Mullenweg, calls Level 2 —they’re simply recreating the office, online.

Level 2 remote work is characterized by many of the bad habits that permeate the modern office, sabotaging productivity in the process. Yes, we have access to tools like Zoom — fast becoming a synonym for video-calls — but it’s what we do with those tools that matters.

It’s unfortunate that we’re falling into the same old traps from our home offices, where we should be afforded — providing we have set boundaries with our family and our pets — a more focused environment for doing our best work, free of a many of the 50+ interruptions we face each day in the office.

For the most part, how we’re using Zoom (or Microsoft Teams, Skype etc), equates to a monumental waste of time, and here’s why.

1 Unnecessary Calls

As Angellist founder Naval Ravikant likes to say, meetings should be phone calls, phone calls should be emails, and emails should be texts. Let’s face it, most meetings could very well be quick phone calls or short emails.

Unfortunately, rather than take ownership, many err on the side of caution, for everything, looping everyone into a meeting that doesn’t need to be there in order to gather consensus and…

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Steve Glaveski

CEO of Collective Campus. HBR writer. Author of Time Rich, and Employee to Entrepreneur. Host of Future Squared podcast. Occasional surfer.