Fuel Your Imagination

TBWA\London and The Book of Man team up to tackle Zoom fatigue

Six months into lockdown, when many of us have developed unsustainable ways of working, the combination of light relief and genuine pause for thought is a welcome one.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director


Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or any other video-calling interface has a singular universal feature for users; fatigue, exhaustion and the sense of existential dread that comes from looking at your own face on a video screen for hours at a time.

It’s an exhaustion that TBWA\London and The Book of Man have tackled head on with the launch of an online tool which allows employees to escape the tyranny of video calls with a series of sounds designed to send the message that you have an urgent situation to attend to away from the screen.  The ‘Sound the Excuse’ microsite soundboard includes the sound of tea spilling over your laptop, or an online food delivery suddenly arriving, a kid getting stuck in the loo or a cat being violently sick. 

The campaign will launch across social and digital outdoor screens this weekend, coinciding with World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10th October. Six months into lockdown, when many of us have developed unsustainable ways of working, the combination of light relief and genuine pause for thought is a welcome one. 

Andy Jex, CCO of TBWA explains: “It’s clear we sometimes need to step away from endless video calls. But it’s not always easy. Nobody should have to make up an excuse to get out of video calls to protect their mental health but for many that’s the only option.”

While the coronavirus crisis has revolutionised work almost over-night, as this campaign underlines, the danger for employees of digital presenteeism, combined with the stress of attempting to remain creative and productive in the midst of a global pandemic, are a potentially toxic combination. 

Research from industry charity  NABS revealed that 37% of employees are struggling with the new pressure of online presenteeism, with 35% citing long virtual video conferencing meetings as a stressor and 45% finding it difficult to set boundaries around working hours.

While research from LinkedIn in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation shows that on average Britons have been working 28 hours of overtime per month since lockdown began, the equivalent of four extra days.

While the campaign delivers light relief, it is also underpinned with an important message. The platform directs users to the Book of Man’s new ‘Life in Lockdown’ initiative, which is designed to help men and those around them navigate through the crisis. The site offers articles, advice and links to resources on how to safeguard mental health during the pandemic. 

Mark Sandford, Co-Founder of The Book of Man, added that the ‘Sound the Excuse’ campaign underlines the fact that it’s OK not to be OK, and shares the important message that new ways of working are not always easy. He explains: “By addressing the issue of video call fatigue head on we hope this will shine a brighter light on the wider challenges of this new way of working.”

Light relief combined with laser-sharp insight and a long-term commitment by The Book of Man to support its community through the myriad challenges of lockdown. A welcome reminder that when it feels like you are just one more video call away from burnout, the best thing to do is get away from the screen. Creativity with a conscience. 


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Mental Health