Social distancing might be the new normal, but certain aspects of your professional life are still bound to feel a little strange. Participating in virtual meetings all day long poses its own set of challenges, including one you might not have thought of. Zoom 's attendee attention tracking tool can tell your boss if you're zoning out during meetings. Before you start to panic, though, know that it's limited to certain parameters.
Here's how it works: Zoom offers meeting administrators the option to know if their employees are spending 30 seconds or more looking at other tabs during a Zoom meeting, via the attendee attention tracking tool. Zoom's information page on the tool reads in part, "Hosts can see an indicator in the participant panel of a meeting or webinar if an attendee does not have Zoom Desktop Client or Mobile App in focus for more than 30 seconds while someone is sharing a screen.. 'In focus' means the user has the Zoom meeting view open and active." So, it only applies for instances involving screen-sharing, and it does not involve any audio or video tracking. Additionally, your boss will only know that you were in a different tab — they won't know what specific site you were visiting.
In case you were wondering, there's no way for you to know if the administrator of a given Zoom meeting has this tool toggled on or off unless they choose to tell you. If you're the administrator, on the other hand, here's how you can turn the toggle on to make sure your employees aren't zoning out and watching Tiger King in another tab.
To turn on attention tracking, all you have to do is log onto the Zoom web portal, click on "Account Management," then "Account Settings," and click the meeting tab. You should see the option to turn on the toggle for attention tracking there.
Once the tool is on, you can start your meeting and click on "Manage Participants" to make sure they're paying attention. A clock indicator will show up next to any participant who "does not have Zoom in focus for more than 30 seconds," Zoom says on its site. This option will only work for participants with version 4.0 of Zoom or newer.
Now that you know your boss can monitor when you tune out of meetings, you might approach virtual work life differently. But this also means you can have more focused trivia nights with friends, or that you can have the most productive virtual book club session of your entire life.
As social distancing measures continue, and even beyond that, it will be increasingly helpful to take advantage of all of Zoom's tools and capabilities. You can even try to have a little fun with it by adding a Snap Camera filter to your next Zoom meeting — just make sure you're not setting it up as the meeting takes place, or you might get dinged for not paying attention.