Business writers and futurists have since long praised the virtues of remote working.
Along with dispensing with the grind of the daily commute, they have cited greater efficiencies, a decrease in office politics, and an improvement in the quality of life.
Then Covid happened. Everything went virtual, but not everything is ok. For some, the transition to a Zoom culture has been seamless, while it has been less than ideal for others.
We are seeing the beginnings of meeting fatigue. Coupled with a loss in camaraderie, a lack of motivation, and a feeling of vulnerability & social awkwardness online.
It is too early to tell if people will adjust to the new normal. However, managers don’t have the luxury of waiting.
They have to instill morale, build cohesive, more agile teams that have to work doubly harder to make up for two lost quarters – despite pay cuts, domestic distractions, a continued health risk, and an uncertain future.
Fortunately, technology combined with sensitivity to individuals who may be feeling lost in a hyper-connected environment can help.
Here are three ideas:
#1 Taking A Page From Webinars
In person, you could say, “All in favour raise your hands.”. Online, the same folks may be preoccupied, distracted, or shy. What works is an idea that already works for Webinars: A Poll, “Are you in favour of the idea. * Yes * No”. And yes, keep it anonymous.
#2 Allow Chats During Discussions
Some find it intimidating to speak up and interrupt during a virtual meeting. Besides a verbal discussion, you will make it easier to express diverse opinions by leaving a chat on.
#3 Smaller Groups
Assume you’re leading a meeting of 30. You could allow separate chat rooms of five each to ideate, discuss, and report back their opinions. These ‘time-outs’ would generate greater participation.
We need to explore more ideas, and I’m sure you have thought of some too. What we know from history is that we always find a way forward. And perhaps a year from now, we would all be comfortable working remotely.
Till then, as managers, we can and must explore ideas to make our teams feel at work at home.
– Vijay Martis is an author and business/ marketing consultant