Video Conferencing – Too Much of a Good Thing?
Nobody would have predicted that in less than a year, a certain video conferencing company’s stock would grow about 400% or that its name would evolve into a global, generic verb …“Zoom” is akin to how “Kleenex” is used when people refer to any type of facial tissue.
While the pandemic is nothing I want to celebrate, as a leadership coach I am thankful for one of its unintended impacts: the realization by business leaders that connection can be just as powerful when done virtually as it is when in person.
It took a while for several of my clients to get comfortable with “being on camera” nearly every day. I challenged them to require all their team members to show up with cameras on, to focus less on how they looked and more on being 100% engaged.
When they paid attention to body language and reactions (even if it was only from the shoulders up) and when they started noticing a pattern of who always spoke first – or didn’t speak at all – things began to shift. Teams became more relaxed and inclusive of one another’s participation. Aspects of their lives outside of work were revealed that might not otherwise have been apparent (such as home décor preferences). And people no longer panicked when their children or family pets entered the room during video meetings.
A different kind of connection with others was created in 2020 – its initial purpose was to help mitigate the feeling of aloneness and isolation during the time of quarantines and bans on group gatherings. What I find fascinating now is a new trend – too much togetherness.
Literally in one week, four of my clients (from different companies) lamented that their calendars are routinely booked solid with various video meetings. They confessed a growing fatigue from constantly being visually “on” as well as glued to chairs in front of their computers. In pre-pandemic work environments – even though many leaders had days of fully booked meetings – those meetings often varied from in-person, to phone, or by simply walking around the office.
One thing I know for sure … whether working in an office or virtually, it’s important to make time for a few short breaks in between all of the meetings. It takes focus to be purposeful and present, no matter what the connection method.
This Week’s Challenge: Look at your calendar for the rest of this week and change a video meeting or two to audio meetings. Be just as focused and engaged. After each call, jot down what you noticed was different – and whether that difference was something you liked or did not. At the end of each day, reflect on your energy. Over the course of the week, what has changed?
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