You wake up motivated to check all of the to-do’s off your list, just as soon as you finish a few meetings. Then, one by one quick questions and sync meetings fill your calendar. Next thing you know, it’s dark outside - and the work plan you had in the morning has sat untouched, accumulating more urgent priorities.
For many of us, as WFH has become just “work” this frustrating cycle can seem impossible to break.
It’s easy to pin the blame on our frequently-clicked video conferencing app. But with our days growing longer, our calendars fuller, and no end in sight—the time has come to question the true source of our productivity battle.
Is clarity really waiting on the other side of that call?
Our calendars have always been peppered with meetings, some with clear agendas, others a little less focused. But as many companies are adapting to working with a distributed team it’s easier than ever to feel like you’re always a few steps behind. Unfortunately, this professional FOMO often materializes in the form of lots and lots of sync meetings. Via videoconference. Back-to-back.
But before you schedule yet another call, you have to ask yourself, “what am I really hoping to gain from this call?” For many, the answer is one of the below:
Having lost the cadence we have come accustomed to in the office, it’s easy to grow anxious around the status of a project you are spearheading or a client your fear has gone unnoticed.
In an effort to simulate the “drop by your desk for a quick question”, harmless 15-minute sync calls just to align are becoming commonplace.
Filling in gaps
We no longer have the comfort of a shared office space to consolidate all decisions made, knowledge accumulated, and progress made.
If you don’t have a common, shared digital workspace with a centralized source of information, you and your team are often chasing down data. This is because our tools - whether they are CRMs, ERPs, or something else - remain woefully disconnected from each other - and often times, from our team members.
So we’re holding more video conference calls as a way to fill in information gaps.
By spending the first 10 minutes of a call just getting on the same page, sharing data and reconciling informational gaps, meetings become less about moving forward and more about repetitive updates.
And when they’re back-to-back, it’s even worse.
It would be doing this challenge injustice to ignore the fact that most of us miss our colleagues. We like to chat, share what we are working on, and especially in a time when you’ve lost the ability to have a mid-hallway chat with anyone besides your roommate—many are scheduling calls just to reconnect.
Calls are for people, tools are for data
For large-scale plans and brainstorming, nothing can replace a good strategic meeting.
But if you are meeting to share data, collaborate on specific work items, or simply to “ask a quick question” - you’ve got a tools or platform issue, not a videoconference issue.
When you are spending tons of time Zooming back and forth for the reasons above (chasing alignment, stability or filling in gaps), you are abusing one tool and ignoring all the rest.
Relaying basic information on calls all day drains you and your team, leaving nothing left for creative brainstorming, project planning, and other initiatives where calls can add substantial value.
Defining when to video call: transparency goes both ways
As we slowly become accustomed to the norms of working from home, and realize that things are still getting done, projects are still moving forward, and the sky has not actually fallen yet— a normal daily rhythm will form.
Transparent calendars. Protecting your most valuable asset (your team) from video call fatigue is a high priority, and can be really difficult in these “always-on” times. By establishing a precedent of realistic expectations and acceptance toward needed “off-time” you give your team a chance to show up fully charged.
Here at monday.com, we’ve encouraged people to set “family time” on their calendars - and we respect those boundaries. Setting those expectations early has helped us avoid productivity issues due to videoconferencing.
Defining why we need to video call: same principles still apply
Some video conferences have to happen - in some cases, there’s no substitute for the kind of creativity and energy a meeting with others will bring. But given our new WFH reality, we’ve gone way past that.
So, before you instinctively schedule another Zoom meeting, consider this handy chart:
YES to call: Big-picture sync, weekly progress meetings, meetings where you need to make progress as a group, team projects that require collaboration not covered by tools
NO to call: Data-sharing, sync and status updates, collaboration for editing documents or design edits, “a quick question”, meetings during blocked off calendar times.
Allow your tools to lend a helping hand
By relying on video conferencing to answer every question, mental energy is being spent clarifying and syncing as opposed to adding real collaborative and creative value. By identifying functions that can be solved using tools, not people, organization-wide processes can become smoother and you can stop jumping from call to call.
If you’re thinking to yourself that your organization doesn’t currently have tools that can carry out those functions, you might have a tool problem, not a call problem. When taking a critical eye to the tools your organization is using, there are a few critical things that should be front of mind:
- Flexibility. Can this tool be used for a variety of workflows or processes and across multiple teams?
- Integrations. If this is where everyone should feel confident checking for information, it needs to be able to work well with all of the other tools your team is using.
- Transparency. Allowing everyone in the organization to access the information they need gives them the autonomy to do what they need, without requesting a 30-minute call.
The habits and structures that are being built during this time have the potential to define your company culture and processes for years to come. By drawing clear boundaries and relying on the right tools, you can actually use this time to create a more ideal workflow within your organization.
So, Zoom responsibly.
Sponsored article. Contributors are experts: they are not part of the appvizer editorial team. Views are their own.