In just a few months, day-to-day working life has changed radically for most of us. Fewer journeys for meetings, fewer physical meetings, less small talk. Many people talk about feeling more efficient. However, many also say they feel more easily tired.
There is reason to stop and think about this. We have discovered that we can perform tasks that demand concentration and freedom from disturbances more efficiently when working remotely and at home, which has taught us to take a more positive view of working from home. However, the more time passes the more we realise that both we personally and our organisation have other needs too. A lot can happen when we meet up and chat more casually, without an agenda. Whereas physical meetings are invigorating, in the worst case digital meetings can sap our energy. We run a risk of missing out on the creative conversations that spark new ideas.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who spends many long hours in Zoom meetings. One meeting follows another, sometimes without a break, and in the worst case, on top of that you’re invited to some Zoom lunch sandwiched in between the other meetings. Having said that, it is noticeable that many people arranging meetings have understood and made changes for the better. Shorter sessions, with planned breaks and group discussions mixed in, a variety of working formats and clear instructions to participants to turn off their microphones (and turn them on when it’s time to talk) and to ‘raise their hands’ for attention.
If a reasonable format for a physical meeting is a maximum of one hour without a break, I would say that a digital meeting should last half an hour. Our brains can’t cope with any more. A few words of advice to you all: schedule breaks between meetings and during longer meetings. Go for a walk, get some air, make sure to see other surroundings and meet people. And one other tip: sit up – no meetings lying in the sofa. I speak from experience – there’s a risk of nodding off (hopefully with the video turned off).
Let us develop the good sides of digital working and add things that provide energy and new ideas.