This week I wanted to talk about working remotely and how to survive on Zoom. I’m coming up on 12 months working purely from home and spending 8 hour days on virtual meetings and I’m sure I must have learnt some useful things during that time! I’d also love to hear some tips from other people in this remote working world, so comment below if you have any other tips.
Taking a good, hard look at myself
One thing I’ve noticed in virtual meetings is that I’m much more conscious of my body language. With the camera on, you can see your own facial expressions and gestures and I just find myself being very self conscious. “Why does my face look like that when I laugh?”
I wonder sometimes if seeing yourself in the camera makes you change your behaviour and come across as ingenuine. I was given an awesome tip by a colleague recently where you can actually turn off the video that is showing you. So the camera is still on but you can’t see yourself. I found this to be a great idea because I feel like I am more myself in meetings. Some providers don’t offer this feature but check out these links below depending on which one you are using:
Reconnect with colleagues
Something else I’ve noticed is that you don’t get while remote working is the opportunity to network or get to know people on your team. I really recommend that you try and book in regular catch ups with your colleagues, even if you’re not their manager. These don’t have to be purely work related, as building a good working relationship is more than work 24/7.
I think it’s especially important with people who are new to your team to make them feel welcome. It’s hard to make friends over a virtual meeting!
Adjust your focus
Feeding into the point above, turn your damn camera on! I really miss seeing people face to face, and I think it’s important for the human connection with someone to see their face. As someone who has to run meetings and present, it’s also really disconcerting speaking to a black screen and having no idea if someone is actually on the other end listening or just scrolling through Instagram.
Think about muting the notifications that come through on other messaging platforms while you are in Zoom meetings and giving the person there your full attention. I think as a presenter it’s also okay to start a meeting by asking for the respect of everyone in attendance with turning their camera on and listening to what you have to say. Do know your audience with this one, and there may be some times that people leave their camera off for good reason. I had a week with my camera off when my wisdom teeth came out because I looked like a chipmunk. 😬
Combating Zoom fatigue
As you can imagine, 8 hour days of meetings can take their toll. Being ‘on’ for that period of time can be exhausting. I’d encourage you to block out time periods where no one can book meetings in your calendar. At my current workplace, they instituted a ‘No meetings Wednesday’ policy to try and help address the issues with Zoom fatigue. This is not really realistic for my role which is external facing, but I appreciate the sentiment.
For myself, I always make sure that I have a clear lunch break where I step away from my laptop and get some fresh air – even if that means blocking it out in my calendar or rescheduling some meetings. The mental reset, even if it’s just for half an hour really helps.
Something else that I have found is that it’s important to have a clear end to your day. Back when I was in the office, the commute home would be my wind down time. Now my wind down time is the walk from my home office to the kitchen!
To make sure that I can make the mental switch off at the end of my day, I have come up with a little ritual which involves closing all the tabs I have open and then closing the lid of my laptop. It sounds really small, but I found when I left everything open and my laptop on, that I never felt that work was truly ‘finished’. This was obviously exacerbated during the lockdowns of COVID when all I was really doing was work.
Technology can also really help with combatting fatigue! I have customised the messaging platforms that I use at work like Gmail and Slack so I only get notifications during working hours. If anything is really urgent, the person will call me. Ask yourself if replying to an email at 10pm is going to make a difference compared to replying at 9am.
These tips are really just to get you started in the ‘new normal’ of remote working. If you have any other tips to share, please comment below!