The new norm is actually the existing norm for some
3rd April by Jane Medley
It’s encouraging to see the volume of businesses who are adapting to the new world we are in of digital meetings, video connections, and the reinvention of day to day business activities.
The ‘can do' spirit we all need is alive and well, and particularly important when challenges to all that we are used to are here for an undetermined length of time.
And although for some it will all seem new, for me, as a virtual worker for the past 13 years, I can assure you that many of the practices that are being newly adopted have been tried, tested and run with success - through choice - for a large part of my time working this way.
I have also found remote working tools and approaches have not prevented me from forming strong business and personal relationships with clients, or delivering business and cost efficiencies to all involved, and I have seen no drop in levels of understanding around tasks, clarity or the ability to ‘read the room’ by being virtual.
When we look at shapers of cultural change, which can often start several levels down from established management, it’s fascinating to see how my teenage daughter and her friends have reinvented both work and current social lives with live digital apps. Regardless of what changes in our lockdown world, this model of working will stay with us for the next generation of working, even when face to face meetings are back on the table. It’s not a full time replacement for the live world obviously, but it is very likely to play a much larger part of smart working futures for the busy.
A few bits of advice though, based on experience over time:
- Treat the virtual meeting (voice or video) as you would a live meeting: not as I have seen before (occasionally) as part of an efficiency approach whilst queuing for coffee in Costa.
- Test a few different systems to see what works best for you - now is the time to road-test the likes of Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and GoToMeeting. As with everything, find what works best for you, and maybe even mix it up a little to keep things varied.
- Allow for initial teething problems when you log on and take a few moments to read the way the meeting flows - slow broadband, volume levels, checking everyone can see each other - it’s the digital pre-chat version of any normal meeting.
- Spend a little time on the process and set-up side of interviewing over video, and we can help with this by being the virtual meeting manager, interviewee host and the people who make the meeting happen, so you can focus on the content part.
- Be comfortable before you start: water, seating choice, backdrop you are happy with, a quiet room. While everyone will become increasingly comfortable with all forms of conversation over virtual meetings, the meeting room itself won’t be there and if you are online for a good chunk of time, you won’t want to be distracted by the surround factors that are now in your individual control.
The comfort curve will increase for everyone the more we are exposed to this working model, but I hope this reassures you the methods are already tried and tested. The tools to go with them are just getting better, and individual’s expectations that ‘this works’ are becoming much more standard. As I said, this is not the total future, but it will very much be a key part of it.