For those of us who have not done it before, working from home has been an adjustment, to say the least. While there are major benefits, there are almost as many challenges. Conducting your everyday interactions, strategy discussions, team meetings, client meetings, etc. through a screen has been the most unnatural of all challenges.
False starts, poor connectivity, dropped lines, muted, un-muted, camera on, camera off, kids screaming, partners walking around in the background, pants on, pants off – almost anything that wouldn’t (hopefully) happen in a normal work setting can happen. On top of that, more than half of human interaction is reliant on seeing, understanding, and processing body language, this means that we are only getting across 50% of the message, at the best of times.
Whether you’re loving the new virtual way of working or get anxious every time a meeting request comes through – you are going to have to get used to them, at least for the foreseeable future.
So, how do you reduce the margin of chaos in this new virtual meeting world? Funnily enough, the same or similar rules apply in face to face situations, it’s just getting used to this different setting.
Here are the guidelines our teams are following to keep things running as smoothly as possible:
- Always join the call a few minutes early – be prepped, you never want to be the last to join a call or to keep people waiting.
- Mute yourself as you join the call – even if there are only a few of you, background noise can quickly become distracting.
- Start with your video turned off – wait until you see what the host or the rest of the team wants to do before switching your video on.
- Set up the intention of the call – due to the lack of face to face interaction, calls can easily be derailed without a clear goal for the meeting.
- Try to bring some social interaction to the call – most calls can be very task orientated which reduces the ability to nurture relationships and connect meaningfully.
- Give people time to respond to a question – Silences are all part of video interaction, give people time to unmute themselves to answer.
- Wear appropriate clothing – work attire has become more relaxed in the comfort of our own homes, but we need to retain how we usually presented ourselves, or at least from the waist up.
- Try not to interrupt – overlaps in conversations are a given over video but give people the space that they need to have constructive conversations.
- Reduce the background noise – if you are working in a common space and are on a call, try to reduce the noise in your immediate area. Put your mic on mute if you are comfortable with this and are not being addressed at the time.
- Add a password – you don’t want anyone else joining or hacking into a work call – this is the latest and most serious threat to the virtual meeting.
And lastly, remember to embrace the new normal. Even if you follow all these suggestions, virtual meetings may still not go according to plan but mostly due to factors outside of your control. We’re all navigating through the same uncharted territory so try to take the awkward silences and blurry screens in your stride.