It’s been more than three years since the virus raced through our meetings, upending the status quo. And the apple cart isn’t going to change back.
Many of us have been working remotely for so long, using digital collaboration platforms like Basecamp, Slack, and Zoom, that it’s difficult to recall what it was like to go to work every day. But then, we have the office crew that sticks together like glue and watches out for each other, and sometimes the remote group begins to feel like outsiders. Leadership needs to keep a pulse on these inter-office/remote worker dynamics.
Stay Consistent While Collaborating in Digital Meetings
However, most agree that collaborating in the workplace is far more “natural” than doing these meetings on Zoom. One issue is that many of you still haven’t figured out how to read a Zoom room’s pulse the same way you used to read the emotional intensity of an in-person office meeting. The good news is that it isn’t as difficult as you may believe. Look at how digital technologies have changed how we communicate outside of work over the last several decades to see how adaptable humans are.
With at least some kind of remote work probable for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, here are a few strategies to interact with customers and colleagues genuinely. That is to say, creatively and successfully, you can maneuver well even when you can’t all sit around the same table.
Say hello and good morning to each person!
When so many companies went to remote work, a few companies immediately instituted a regular, casual Good Morning Zoom (GMZ) meeting at 9 a.m. They all get online and say good morning to each other, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. They go through the work schedule — what to do for the day and week ahead — but they also make time for folks to share any news about their personal life.
When you work in an office, you generally have time in the morning to engage with your coworkers personally. You stroll down the hall and inadvertently start a chat about your weekend activities. You can and should carry over this relationship to Zoom, where meetings should not focus only on work.
Let go of meeting stress
When you’re supposed to be on camera all day, stress may lead to extra pressure to be “perfect.” However, it’s best to realize that no one is always camera-ready. There can be times when video chat makes your staff or customers feel overwhelmed. Leaders can create the expectation that individuals can switch off their cameras when they aren’t feeling well — or just not feeling up the pressure of the camera all day.
However, this does not imply that your whole team should be silent with “name only” or pic on the screen. One of the most frustrating aspects of Zoom is when you put yourself on mute; it becomes much more difficult to “unmute” yourself if you have anything vital to say. However, the mute is a significant opportunity for creative teams since it prevents critical breakout talks from occurring during simultaneous in-person/Zoom meetings.
People are afraid of talking over one another in digital conversation meetings, even when brainstorming and with natural dialogues taking place. Most companies don’t have a way to manage these sessions and make them happen more naturally.
Our old sessions for brainstorming in the office used to almost be brutal with the loud talking and drowning each other out — but it was FUN, and some of our best ideas came out of those meetings. Somehow we want this energy to infuse digital meetings.
But the idea of digital meetings is to cooperate as you would in a “real world” meeting while being conscious of each other in a manner that does not restrict natural conversation flow.
Never forget that employees frustrated with your meeting fumbles can always find work in greener pastures. Such as the organic greens industries which are crying for workers and staff. I laugh as I say this because if everyone would lighten up in digital meetings, the whole company would go a lot further to fix digital daze.
Keep your body language in mind in meetings
In a video conference, it’s all too common to look at your face and wonder, “Did I freeze, or do I simply have Resting Zoom Face?” Always be conscious of how you present yourself in meetings. Hold a mirror up to yourself and see how you appear to others — but don’t be the person that has to keep looking at the pic of themselves on the screen.
Examining how you portray yourself in the digital realm may be an eye-opening opportunity to increase your genuine participation on Zoom and in the real world. I’ve always believed that everyone, particularly your customers, should leave a meeting feeling better than they did when they arrived. Similarly, in Zoom/digital meetings — the latter provides us with feedback that we can utilize to collaborate with customers more synergistically.
Maintain a healthy level of energy
As a leader, it is your responsibility to bring enthusiasm to the table, both in person and through Zoom meetings. More importantly, you should constantly try to find a balance between those who have a lot of energy and those who don’t — so that everyone ends up in the center. I used to have a boss who would say, “Okay, all you sleepies — let’s take a break and caffeinate!” Of course, this was in an office setting — but it works well with your digital meetings as well.
There are other ways to keep the energy alive in meetings. For example, when a customer is silent, your responsibility is to inject enough enthusiasm into the discussion. You’ll want to create a creative spark without overpowering the person’s natural demeanor.
How to balance team and customer energy
On the other side, if a customer is so energized that they’re all over the place, you’ll want to be a little more systematic and channel the energy into something more useful. But sometimes free-floating energy is just nervousness.
Leaders should set the example of harnessing and sustaining balanced energy. This entails taking the time to figure out how many virtual meetings are feasible and sustainable for you. Likewise, refresh yourself with coffee and stretching breaks in between sessions, just like you would at work in an office.
Don’t worry about negative energy — you can shift it to the positive
You cannot generate nor destroy energy, a lovely universal reality. But you can shift the energy around and transform it to meet your needs and that of your company. We don’t have to succumb to Zoom fatigue; all we have to do is swap gears and achieve a new energy equilibrium.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Alexander Suhorucov; Pexels; Thank you!