Workers Pretending to Look Busy by Playing Council Zoom Meeting

Estimated read time 3 min read
  • Some workers watch a Zoom meeting a New Zealand council uploaded to YouTube to pretend to be busy.
  • Comments under the video say that some people feel their colleagues distract them in the office.
  • Return-to-office mandates make some workers feel less productive due to frequent distractions. 

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A Zoom recording of a council meeting in a rural region of New Zealand uploaded to YouTube nearly four years ago has racked up almost two million views, with people commenting that they play it to pretend to be busy in the office.

The video, uploaded by the Waipa District Council in April 2020 during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, shows a Zoom meeting of the region’s finance-and-corporate committee. Waipa is a region in New Zealand with a population of just over 60,000.

Astonishingly, the video, which would, by all accounts, be dull to an outsider, has received over 1.8 million views since and has been flooded with over 1,000 comments. The council’s YouTube account only has around 3,500 subscribers.

Fortune first reported on the video.

The comments underneath the video offer insight into why people click on it.

One comment from three years ago with nearly 5,000 likes said: “Anyone else using this just so they can sound like they’re in a meeting so their other family members don’t disturb them while working from home?”

“I put this on in the morning whenever my roommate getting ready to work so they think I’m in a meeting or busy. No one know I’m currently jobless. Life is tough but we must keep going,” another commenter wrote.

Nearly four years later, people still comment on the post, but now many workers use the video in offices to avoid being distracted by colleagues.

“Hands down the best video to use for the forced RTO scam occurring with all these BS employer/company policies,” one comment posted on Friday said.

“You guys save me from having to talk to my coworkers,” a comment from early March said.

Another wrote: “It’s almost been two years and I literally still use this video as a cover… I even know where to talk to or laugh to make my act more believable……”

Business Insider previously found that people have found various Zoom recordings on YouTube to dodge office small talk and avoid work. One is a product-marketing meeting uploaded by the software company GitLab and another is a finance meeting uploaded by the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Companies have increasingly enforced return-to-office mandates in the past year, with CEOs citing improved productivity as a major reason.

Some workers say they experience the opposite. Being in the office can be more distracting as colleagues do things such as “desk bombing” or pulling you into spontaneous chats.

Jessica Methot, an associate professor of human-resource management at Rutgers University, told Fortune on the topic that open office spaces have invited more distractions for busy workers, so they’re “constantly experiencing intrusions.”