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You’re on mute et al: 5 things we’d rather not see or hear again in 2021

You’re on mute et al: 5 things we’d rather not see or hear again in 2021

Posted 17th December, 2020 by Sarah

2020 has been a rollercoaster ride – and not just any rollercoaster – the ups and the downs have been akin to those of Kingda Ka – said to be the largest big dipper in the world.

Life – both personal and professional – has been turned on its head in the past 12 months. The pandemic has forced all sorts of changes on us – from the lexicon of life to the things we see and experience on a day-to-day basis. Some changes have happened for the better. However, there are other additions to life that we’ve had enough of.

Here’s our round up of five things we never want to see, hear or experience again after 2020.

You’re on mute

If they had a pound for every time they’d heard the phrase ‘you’re on mute’ in 2020, some people would have a tidy little nest egg by now.

With working from home practices set to continue into 2021, we’re not going to see the back of the term any time soon.

However, we can certainly have some fun with it in the next year. How about buying a ‘you’re on mute’ mug to convey the sentiment in meetings of the future?

Or, if you have regular team meetings, why not introduce a long-term game of ‘you’re on mute’ bingo. Each team member starts with a grid of nine ‘you’re on mutes’ and the first person to shout “you’re on mute” – when they notice someone else on mute – gets to cross one of the terms off their grid. The first person to cross off all nine gets a prize.


The bookcase has become the natural Zoom background of choice during 2020. Everyone from The Duchess of Cambridge and Meryl Streep to Joe Biden have been pictured with bookcase backgrounds during meetings.

In fact, bookcase backgrounds have become so popular that booksellers have reported that sales of aesthetically pleasing book collections have gone up during the pandemic.

In April, the twitter account Bookcase Credibility was set up to monitor and comment on the bookcase backgrounds of VIPs. It quickly clocked up more than 108,000 followers.

While we accept that some people have gone to great lengths – like colour coordinating bookshelves – to make their bookcases extra pleasing during video calls, we’d like to see a change of scenery in 2021.

How about hosting your video call in front of a great piece of art? Or be brave and channel Tracy Emin and host your next meeting in front of your unmade bed.

One of the directors at tsoHost hosts his Zoom meetings in front of a huge scale model of the Millennium Falcon!

The Times Square background

According to one poll, Times Square is one of the most popular Zoom backgrounds of 2020, followed closely by The Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum.

While these travel-related backgrounds are sensible and safe, they’re becoming a little run of the mill. Why not shake things up in 2021 with a Star Wars scene or an airbnb background, for example?

The two-factor dash

Two-factor authentication is essential to working from home security, but we think you’ll agree that there’s nothing more frustrating than entering your two-factor pin only for the number to change as you’re typing in the last digit. Actually, there is something more frustrating now we come to think of it – being asked for your two-factor authentication pin and realising that your mobile phone battery has just run out of juice.

If you’re really fed up with two-factor authentication and aren’t tied to any particular method as part of your company, you could try out Google Titan – a hardware alternative to SMS-based two-factor.

In its review of Titan PC Mag said: “The price may seem steep, but the extra security is worth the cost.”

Single screens

If you worked at an agency or larger company, or ran your own business with your own offices before the pandemic, there’s a good chance you had your office space set up just the way you wanted it.

When the first lockdown started, many people took the make-do-with-makeshift approach to setting up their working from home office space, thinking the conditions would only be temporary.

Luxuries like dual monitors, ergonomic chairs and desk accessories weren’t given a thought in many cases.

If you’ve still not given your working from home space a little TLC then 2021 is the time to do it. Go all out – buy that extra screen, invest in a comfortable chair, get a wrist support – and why not make your space even more individual with elements like wall sings, personalised mouse mats or even a llama pen holder.

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