It’s Casual Friday Every Day Now!

2003 Rubys Pajama Party

I had a hard time finding a pic that conveyed the idea that web meetings today have a big pajama party vibe.

I’ve written at length this past year about how COVID has affected, well, everything.

The adaptions we’ve all had to make to our changing circumstances have been pervasive. I was just organizing all my paperwork to send to our accountant for my taxes. My total travel/work expenses for 2020 added up to $440. In a normal year — in the Before Times — it was more like $3,000 a month.

I clearly wasn’t the only one: Sales of anything even tangentially related to working from home went through the roof last year. Early on during the first lockdown, there was a rush where my B2B dealers had business clients looking for headsets for their staff who were now working from home. In that first rush, the clients just wanted the cheapest possible option, in some cases opting to deploy the lowest-price wired earbuds that had a mic on the cable.

Not long after that was a second rush: Companies — and often individual end users who decided that the lowest-price option was not optimal — came back to purchase higher end Bluetooth headsets with noise-canceling and long battery life.

I could have told them that. In fact, I did. I told my B2B teams that just because their clients didn’t want to spend a lot of money, they wouldn’t be happy with the cheapest option, and they’d just be back again, and need to spend the money they should have spent in the first place.

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It’s like déjà vu all over again.

But I digress. All of that was a roundabout buildup to what I really wanted to talk about. It seems like a lot longer, years in fact, but it wasn’t even a year ago that something else was very different to how it is today.

I’ll ask the rAVe readers: Do you remember when everyone still dressed up for web meetings? I do. We all dressed for business. We did our hair. We even made sure we brushed our teeth.

Lately, though? I’ve been in serious business web meetings with serious business people, we’re talking about serious business things, and using serious business words. Which is pretty much like how things used to be too. Except now it’s typical for these serious business people to look on camera like they just rolled out of bed after a three-day nap.

Also, while early on last year everyone always had their cameras on, now it’s usual for someone to say at the start of the meeting “I’ve got my camera off. No one needs to see my hair right now.” Followed by a chorus of, “Me, too!”

Circling back to the opener of this topic, and necessity being the mother of invention, just like at the start of the first lockdown there began a rush on headsets, now there’s a new product niche that’s opened up: LED ring lights for laptop webcams to set the stage with more flattering lighting than the ambient light that makes us all look like we have a thumb for a face.

Luxury or necessity? That’s probably a matter of perspective.