This pandemic sparks a radical shift in how we live and work as a society. The world will never be the same, unlikely to return to the pre-covid-19 era ultimately. The notion is quite apparent in today’s digital economy’s accelerating phase, vastly ranging from online education to telemedicine. Online meetings and remote work have come to stay and are ingrained in our daily lives.
What does it means for Business?
Despite all its uncertainties, this pandemic has opened our eyes to the numerous advantages of remote work.
Remote work helps employees save money, allows for more time with family, makes learning more independent, staying more focused on the tasks given to them, and avoids company politics. While businesses can benefit significantly from the lower cost and greater access to the talent that it provides.
With these advantages, it is unsurprising that more employees would want or even demand desirable flexible working arrangements. In the coming year and beyond, businesses will need to improve employee satisfaction and adapt to the present changes, especially by providing resources that cater to remote work.
- AS_Appendorf / Pixabay
More so, online meetings will continue to flourish. Online meetings have improved communication abilities and provide easy access to team members, even those on different continents.
Along with the benefits of this new wave, there are also negative side effects. Ever heard of dreadful ‘Zoom Fatigue’? According to The Psychiatric Times,
“Audio has been proposed as the main reason that video meetings are draining. It turns out that millisecond delays in virtual verbal responses negatively affect our interpersonal perceptions, even without any internet or technical issues.”
We experience mental fatigue due to the limited social interactions that in-person meetings provide. Added to this are the non-stop distractions such as technical difficulties (being muted, frozen screen, poor internet connection, etc.) and the pandemic’s sedentary lifestyle. These unavoidable hurdles take a toll on the human brain and are significant contributors to mental exhaustion.
Because of the fast-paced shift in our working environment, organizations’ leaders and managers are now more confused and overwhelmed. Virtual work contrasts what is known and is more difficult to enforce compared to working in person. Communication and lack of technical skills for both parties are indeed the no.1 culprits.
So what can Leaders do?
As leaders, providing our employees with the best resources is now more critical than ever. Thus, leaders need to provide creative solutions to their employees’ wellbeing.
Here are some tips on effectively navigating online meetings, categorized by the two most essential aspects that leaders need to focus on: Employees Well-being and Team Collaboration.
One problem with today’s online meetings is the crossing of boundaries. Most people I talked to, who transitioned to remote working, feel like they are working MORE!
This is also my struggle during my first year working remotely. I worked more, on weekends and even when unnecessary. I checked my e-mails non-stop, on the phone, on the computer, and even when outside.
Here’s the thing, since people are working alone on their computers without colleagues passing needless work to them and there are fewer office activities (office chats, team building etc.), employees now have more focus on the task at hand, which means that a 5-hour job can be done in 2-3 hours. And what do we do when we finish an assignment quicker than expected? We keep on finding more things to do.
Unfortunately, this results in some leaders and project managers monitoring team members non-stop, asking for more conference calls, eventually causing more harm than good. Hundreds of people feel that conferences are not the best use of their time.
How to fix this:
MAKE PREPARATION AS A PART OF YOUR S.O.P.
- Always prepare an agenda for the meeting
- Send reminders to the team members to check their technology set up at least 15 minutes before the call.
- If you have more than a 1-hour meeting, set a 15-30 minutes break in between.
- Ensure you and your employees politely consider others’ privacy and personal lives.
NOTE: Most people are late for online meetings. As a leader, you have to set expectations and exert team members to respect other’s time.
Online meetings are all about collaboration, and collaboration is a two-way street comprising both the leader and the team members.
Most leaders fall into the trap of micromanaging people, which can easily be done in in-person work. However, control doesn’t work virtually. It just isn’t feasible.
Control is difficult as virtual barriers will not allow you to monitor what your employees are doing; some will pretend to be involved but are distracted by numerous issues, and others will completely disconnect. Let go of control and build trust within your team.
How to fix this:
HONEST AND CLEAR COMMUNICATION IS CRUCIAL.
- In a meeting, turn cameras on, and recommend everyone does the same. Turning on cameras makes your team more engaged, connected, and accountable.
- Divert from online meetings. Ask each of your team members what the best communication tool aside from online sessions is.
- Use Technology to your Advantage (Project Management Tools and Screen Sharing Recording Tools)
- Determine which employees are good at following instructions via e-mail/reading or visual aids.
- For more visual team members, send them recordings of how-tos or even a quick video message; and for those who are good at reading instructions, try to communicate via online chat tools aside from e-mails.
NOTE: How-tos videos are excellent in providing instructions.
Digital ready culture is imperative to make our business thrive in today’s digital economy. As leaders, we must learn how to compromise and interact intentionally. Let’s make ourselves open for clear communication and promote collaborative work with team members. A simple ‘I trust you’ note can boost your team’s morale.