One of the few upsides to a year spent at home amid a global pandemic was the shift to a ‘work from home’ lifestyle, at least some felt that way anyway, and many businesses now are working towards remote working for good as a result of the experience.
Collectively, Australian workers felt an improved work-life balance, found they spent less money commuting and experienced an increase in distraction-free productivity. But we couldn’t have done it without Zoom.
Zoom brought the meeting room online and allowed us to join virtual brainstorms, huddles and catch-ups from the comfort of our own homes — pants optional though perhaps recommended — but around one year in and we’re over it. Thank god the ‘Friday night virtual drink’ phase has passed.
While we’ve made peace with the fact the Zoom call is here to stay, we’re thankful for any opportunity to leave our cameras off, and if possible, leave any meeting early. Now, we have a tool to help us do just that.
Zoom Escaper is a plug-in that helps you “self-sabotage” the call, so you can leave the meeting without being seen as a flake. In fact, your colleagues will be glad you do, because the tool helps to make you seem so annoying to them that they’ll be glad for your departure.
The tool “allows you to self-sabotage your audio stream, making your presence unbearable to others”, and it does so by overriding your audio to play the most intolerable background noises. We’re talking echos, crying babies, dogs barking, construction sounds, wind, static connection, men weeping (odd, but sure), even urination. The stuff of nightmares, no?
Obviously, some sounds would serve more effectively than others. The crying baby, for example, may seem suspicious to your co-workers who know very well that you have a 10-year-old or no children in your house. Urinating is another one that we’d probably use as a last resort. But construction? And static connection? That’s the stuff that’ll get you out of that Zoom call that really should have been an email.
Installing the plug-in requires a few moves from you. First, head to the Zoom Escaper site and click ‘Enable Microphone’. You’ll then need to download and set up the VB-CABLE for the operating system you have in use. Then refresh the Zoom Escaper site and hit the start button to play around with the sounds.
In Zoom, once you’re ready to put the tool to use, switch the Output on the Zoom Escaper page to VB-CABLE. Now in Zoom, set your microphone to VB-CABLE, and go for it. You can easily turn the interruptions off by switching the microphone setting in Zoom back to your computer’s built-in mic.
During the call, you may not be able to hear the sound effects over your voice, but your colleagues sure will, so best to try out volumes first.