Zoom out of Zoom

August 5, 2020

At this stage of the pandemic it seems like the world’s infrastructure is dependent on Zoom. The video conferencing app has been powering the workforce, classrooms, and family events. Despite all the appreciation we have in what Zoom is doing, it is exhausting to be constantly on video (Often referred to as Zoom Fatigue).

For my role, Zoom meetings are frequent. In my day-to-day, I'm often a stakeholder or presenter in meetings where video and screen-sharing are important to connect and align. Though I've been able to get rid of some meetings and do some audio only, there are still a lot that are on video. I'm a manager...I'm in a lot of meetings and have embraced it. The feeling of paying full attention and speaking to a (usually) 16:9 space in your laptop can be really tiring. John Cutler tweeted about how distance might play a factor.

It's personally taken a toll on me both mentally and physically. In the beginning of this pandemic, I lost track of my time moving around and stretching. What resulted was a lot of neck, back, and leg pain. As a counter-measure, I designed a few different work stations that I can move around to. It's a running joke at Webflow that I'm always in a different place in the next meeting (often with the same people). I have about 8 different configurations and would love to share a few different setups.

The desk setup

This is my standard setup for the majority of meetings. I have three webcams that quickly let me change angles. You'll notice one of the webcams is my mirrorless camera, which I use when I'm presenting in key meetings or recording high quality video.

What's needed:

  • Laptop (I use a MacBook Pro)
  • Webcam(s)
  • External monitor
  • Bluetooth keyboard
  • Bluetooth mouse/trackpad
  • Mechanical keyboard (duh)

Despite all the variations I'll go through, this is still my primary space. This workspace is particularly important when I am a host or presenter. I need multiple cameras and ample workspace to monitor conversations while keeping the audience engaged.

Photo of laptop stand and monitor with a mirrorless camera

The TV setup

I use this setup for meetings where I'm more of an observer or spectator. Examples are our weekly town halls when I'm not presenting or webinars.

What's needed:

  • Television
  • HDMI adapter
  • USB-C adapter that can connect to HDMI
  • Laptop (in clamshell mode)
  • Web cam
  • Bluetooth keyboard
  • Bluetooth mouse/trackpad
Photo of setup with TV and webcam connected to laptop

The laptop and couch setup

This workspace is optimized for meetings with only one person. I use the split screen for Zoom and note-taking. You'll noticed that I have a laptop stand and an external keyboard and trackpad. This forces me to sit at a bit of a distance and to minimize the amount of typing noise.

What's needed:

  • Webcam
  • Laptop stand (Mine is from YOHANN)
  • Bluetooth keyboard
  • Bluetooth trackpad/mouse
Setup from the couch with a laptop

Zoom on the iPad

My favorite setup for 1:1s with people in my org. Often I'm not typing, instead, I'm focused on listening and taking notes on paper. I really like this setup because it allows you to move around and have a more intimate feel because if it's ambience and viewing distance.

What's needed:

  • Tablet (I use an iPad Pro)
  • USB-C adapter (I plug into ethernet to ensure internet speed)
  • Tablet stand
Photo of David and Maciej having 1:1 using Zoom on the iPad.

I hope some of these examples can spark some inspiration in how you think about your video conferencing workspace. If you design one, I'd love to see them!

Zoom out of Zoom and try to welcome the real world in as best you can.



In case you're interested in the equipment, I'll list them here (I don't use affiliate links):


Proof of Concept: The 000 Series

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