A tongue in cheek article with professional overtones toward our virtual working.

Virtual working and use of Zoom, Teams and Hangouts etc is now a primary way of communicating, running meetings, training and coaching. With recent government announcements this approach is only going to continue for some while yet.

I have been on the receiving and delivery side of using these tools in anger since February and it has been a learning curve for all of us. In my experience the effective use of these tools is getting better. Familiarity and use of the functions has improved. Individual confidence and preparedness has increased. All adding to the user experience.

I still notice however continued issues with the position of people’s laptops /screens. I can guarantee that on a meeting or training session I attend there will be 2-3 people who have their laptops or screens positioned so that their camera is looking up at them from below, rather than being level with their face. So often I have to give feedback to people about the impact they have on others. Watch any news programme these days and you will see politicians, business people and journalists alike looking down at their screens. Faces bearing down at weird angles.

I am tired of looking up virtual noses.


This downward viewing of screens has a few consequences. It is disconcerting for the viewer, seeing a potentially distorted perspective of the person on the screen. It is an uncomfortable and unnatural position to be in for sustained periods. Often, focus is lost because the camera lens is working with a face at differing angles, rather than straight on. It also looks a tad unprofessional. It shows little thought to how people you are communicating with will receive you.

What I find even more strange is that those who do look down at their screens, don’t even think it is odd when they look at themselves on the screen at this unusual angle. How bizarre!

Believe it or not, ‘text neck’ is now an unofficial condition. A repetitive stress injury. Looking down at a 45-degree angle or hunched over to view something affects us physiologically too. Neck strain, shoulder aches are not uncommon. Sometimes, spinal issues arise because of it. Perhaps ‘text neck’ will evolve to ‘Zoom neck’ in the future? Frequent use of virtual tools is tiring anyway, without other injuries arising.

If this is your natural position for your 121 meetings or team meetings managers and leaders, do you really want to be seen by your reports like this?

It’s a simple fix

In reality, there is no excuse for not placing your screen camera sitting at just below eye level, as is recommended. In corporate life, I had to complete a DSE (Display Screen Equipment) assessment. Table set up, desk height, screen height and posture were all considered. With recommendations made accordingly. I am not sure what organisational DSE assessments are taking place for home workers at present?

In the absence of a proper assessment, a simple laptop or DJ stand will raise things up by just a few inches and make a real difference for all parties. Yes, a standalone keyboard might also need to be considered. Surely it’s worth it long term?

Failing this, go, dust off and grab some of those rarely used Jamie Oliver (other chefs are available!) recipe books and prop up your screen. It will transform your experience.

If you are a line manager and you see your employees in this position, offer some feedback or purchase some equipment for them. You do have a duty of care.

I am tired of looking up virtual noses…