'The Office' Meets Zoom

Holding meetings in real life seems like a thing of the past now that virtual conferences are taking place by using video chat platforms like Zoom and Google Meet. It was only a matter of time before someone became inspired by our new way of life. Say goodbye to old-school workplace sitcoms, and say hello to the remote workplace comedy created by the producers of NBC’s The Office.

According to Deadline, the former executive producers of the fan-favorite sitcom, Ben Silverman and Paul Lieberstein, have reunited to work on a new project that will accurately and comically capture the virtual workplace.

“Start with the office comedy, lose the office and you’re just left with comedy,” Lieberstein, who played Toby Flenderson in The Office, told Deadline. “The math works.”

According to Bustle, the series is still untitled, but it will revolve around a boss who is still trying to work out the kinks of a Zoom-like platform in a world where digital is the new reality.

"I was in everybody's house and I was in everybody's life," Lieberstein told NPR about his experiences in working remotely. "Everybody's attempt to keep themselves private from work no longer applies. And this kind of integration between home and work brought all these new ideas and stories and characters into play."

The at-home episode of Saturday Night Live that aired on April 11 featured a sketch about a corporate Zoom call. The 5-minute skit featured two receptionists, played by Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant, who struggled to understand how Zoom works. SNL accurately depicted the frustration of those who are far from technologically advanced, and it’s possible the skit gave us some insight on what the upcoming series may look like.

Business-oriented conference calls come with a long list of technical difficulties including audio and video glitches. The malfunctions are often out of our control; however, there are a number of awkward scenarios arising from them. Most conference calls have at least one member who doesn’t realize their audio isn’t muted. That unfortunate soul ends up having a private conversation in front of their classmates or colleagues. People also seem to forget that the other members of the call can see everything they’re doing. Make sure your camera is off before you take your laptop into the bathroom!

Not only are we more prone to technical difficulties, but we’re also experimenting with Zoom’s virtual background feature, which allows users to upload an image or a video as their background during the conference call. Some backgrounds are mundane office-space images while others take users to the beach or the pool. In addition to backgrounds, people even figured out a way to use Snapchat filters on Zoom. If you’re planning on using these filters, make sure you know how to get rid of them. You wouldn’t want to end up like that one manager who turned herself into a potato and couldn’t figure out how to switch back to normal.

Although there haven’t been cast announcements regarding the upcoming series, fans of The Office can get ready to fall in love with a new sitcom that will accurately represent contemporary, digital obstacles.