How to Stay Engaged During Virtual Office Meetings
January 8, 2021 by Alexis Babiarz
Despite the arrival of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine, many of the knowledge workers who have been performing their jobs from home for the past 10 months aren’t likely to return to the office any time soon. For the majority of those who can work remotely, the perks of doing so are simply too numerous to give up.
But with the good comes, well, the less good. One of the downsides to working from home can be the frequent video calls that managers at companies have been implementing as a way to recapture lost face time.
But the substitute may not be working. More than a third of workers who have been using this medium for meetings since the start of the pandemic report having “experienced video call fatigue,” according to one survey.
To keep people engaged so they can stay working remotely (a practice that increases productivity and cuts costs for companies), we’ve compiled the following tips for employers:
Use it wisely
Managers may be tempted to turn every email chain into a video call. They should hold back, however. Multiple hours of-back-to-back Zoom or Skype calls can tire and annoy employees, many of whom may also be dealing with continued pandemic-related changes, such as school closures.
Before you hit “Schedule a meeting,” ask yourself whether the topic for discussion could be handled via email or even a regular phone call. If so, go one of those routes and save everyone some time and stress.
Keep it short
If, after some consideration, you’ve determined that a video call would best serve your needs, go ahead and schedule it. But keep things on-track during the meeting.
That means cutting people off (politely, of course) when they start to verbally meander or when the conversation gets off-topic. Pay attention to the clock, and end the call at the designated time. Very few people enjoy a work call that goes on after it’s supposed to end.
Set an agenda
Knowing exactly what you need to discuss (and sharing that information with everyone you invite to your call) will help keep your meeting as short as possible. A day before the video call, send out your agenda via email, so the whole team knows what to expect going in.
Video-call participants are more likely to get engaged in a call if they’re asked to introduce themselves. After all, people like to talk about number one. Even if everyone already knows everyone else, have each caller say hello and spend a few seconds telling the others how their day is going.
This isn’t likely to take very long. However, if it begins to derail the agenda, feel free to gently steer things back on course by cutting off the water-cooler talk with something straightforward and honest, such as, ‘I’d love for us to keep chatting, but I want to be mindful of everyone’s time, and we still have to talk about X or Y.’ You won’t hurt any feelings.
Limit other mandatory video calls
As a manager, you’ve probably been reading a fair amount about how to keep the social aspect of employment alive during remote work. Some articles call for video-conference happy hours, while others suggest video coffee breaks mid-morning.
While these ideas are good ones, given the number of work-related video calls many virtual workers now have to be on, do your best to limit the number of non-essential invites you send out. We can probably all agree that shutting down at 5 p.m. and doing whatever we want sounds a whole lot more relaxing than having a mandated beer with the boss.
Planning to stay remote or kicking 2021 off by starting your own business? Get a virtual office and all the perks it has to offer. Metro Offices has you covered. Browse our locations today.
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