Children interrupting Zoom meetings could be the reboot corporate culture needed

The door behind the man chairing the meeting burst open and his toddler ran in, jumped on his lap and smeared Vegemite all over his computer screen. That revelation is making me think that screens might be perversely better at connecting us than face-to-face workplace life. A postgraduate researcher, Rebecca Lellie, told me a wonderful story about why she decided to write her thesis on screen cultures. One night they disappeared upstairs and Rebecca told the little girl she had the big screen all to herself. Tablets and laptops allow us to wander into a private space and watch unobserved. As Rebecca observed in her research, they encourage a more intimate mode of viewing. But when that two-year-old bursts in the boundaries between the workplace and the domestic space collapse. It’s a feminist shibboleth that women have historically borne the burden of being the keepers of the domestic domain. There has been a lot of lip service paid to flexible work practices. Feminist demands for flexible working hours and practices that are not built around the needs of the traditional male breadwinner have made little inroads in mainstream corporate culture. To give our leaders and managers confidence that people can be trusted to deliver without having to put on suits and judged on what time they leave the office. We hear a lot about how screens disconnect us and separate us from “reality’” Yet I suspect many of us have found just the opposite by looking into each other’s lounge rooms and bedrooms. I was in a virtual meeting the other day when a man who is famous for his relentlessly pragmatic demeanour paused and asked everyone to explain what was behind them.