After weeks of working from home, your video calls are probably starting to feel a little monotonous. But what if there was fresh, nonhuman face in your virtual meeting? Maybe a cow, a llama, a ... goat?
That's the idea behind Goat 2 Meeting, a new service run by the Sweet Farm animal sanctuary in Half Moon Bay, Calif., south of San Francisco. The farm works to save farm animals from slaughter and to educate visitors about the impacts of factory farming.
Sweet Farm is funded by grants and donations, which usually come from in-person activities such as tours and corporate events.
"Sixty to 70 percent of our revenue has gone out the door" since the coronavirus hit, says Nate Salpeter, who founded the farm with his wife, Anna Sweet.
"So very quickly we had to figure out a way that we can still execute on our mission while also driving revenue," he tells NPR's All Things Considered.
Now, with various amounts of donation, Paco the llama, Juno the goat, Magnolia the cow or even Steve the rooster could be the one to join in on your dreary video conference calls.
Seattle-based Rebellyous Foods is one of the dozens of companies that have surprised employees with a virtual visitor.
"There was a quite a bit of squeals with joy as a fun diversion in the middle of a very busy Monday morning," says Rebellyous Foods CEO Christie Lagally. "Some of them were kind of coming in to eat or coming in from grazing, so ... they're very busy animals it seems like. I'm glad they took time out of their day to meet with us."
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Now during all those Zoom calls these days, are you hoping to distract colleagues from noticing as your gray roots submerge or your beard grows unruly? Well, what if you added a fresh face to your virtual meeting, maybe one covered in fur or feathers.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
(Laughter) That is the idea behind Goat 2 Meeting from Sweet Farm animal sanctuary in Half Moon Bay, Calif.
NATE SALPETER: Hey, Steve. Say hi to everyone on the Zoom call.
CHANG: That's Nate Salpeter introducing Steve (ph) the rooster, one of the animals who you can invite to your call. Salpeter and his wife Anna Sweet founded Sweet Farm to educate visitors about the impacts of factory farming.
KELLY: Normally, it is funded by grants and donations that come from in-person activities like tours, corporate events. So when the coronavirus hit...
SALPETER: Sixty or 70% of our revenue has gone out the door. So very quickly, we had to figure out a way that we can still execute on our mission while also driving revenue.
KELLY: So now in exchange for a donation, you can get a virtual visit.
SALPETER: We have Gizmo; he's a miniature Hereford steer. We have a dwarf cow; her name is Magnolia. And then from the goat side, there's a whole gaggle of characters out there.
CHANG: Seattle-based Rebellyous Foods surprised its employees with an animal cameo. CEO Christie Lagally said it was a great way to boost morale.
CHRISTIE LAGALLY: They're very busy animals, it seems like. I'm glad they took time out of their day to meet with us.
KELLY: But beware - if you hear braying or crowing, don't necessarily assume an animal has been added to your work call. Could just be a colleague before they get their coffee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.