Let’s face it: like everything else COVID-19, many leaders, their team members and clients are a little sick of Zoom meetings. What started as a useful tool — with a little bit of novelty — has now become yet another reminder of the grind that is just one part of the coronavirus pandemic.
The somber reality for many is that working-from-home will remain a reality for at least another three-to-six months. The very real challenge for leaders in small and large companies alike is keeping our work teams and clients engaged in what seems like an endless remote working model.
While there are many perks to working remote (no one misses commuting), what is lost is the physical connection needed to foster relationships among team members and clients. We have all come to recognize that those in-person meetings or deskside chats really did bring something important to a productive workplace.
Plus, mental health professionals have found that a lack of physical connection with co-workers can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnectedness. These psychological stressors can negatively impact team performance or a client relationship.
It is critically important that leaders recognize and find creative ways to overcome the not-so-virtual burnout to engage effectively with colleagues and customers, while also remaining productive. Here are just a few ways to foster personal connections and maintain workplace energy that are essential keys to overall business success.
- Recreate your standing videoconference. Still running off the same meeting agenda and structure that has been in place since last March and April? It’s time to retool the meeting and, literally, flip the agenda. Rotate meeting facilitators among team members. Incorporate some comic-relief like a video of the week or a rotating share of childhood photos or “hair fails.” Changes can bring a fresh mindset when serious work is discussed.
- Schedule meetings that aren’t strictly about business. When we all worked in the office, we found time for breaks – whether that was the occasional pizza lunch, happy hour or just a conversation in the hall. So, schedule occasional meetings that have nothing to do with work, but instead focus on developing relationships and camaraderie by playing games such as Scattergories. Bring teams and customers together who share interests in movies, music, hobbies, outdoor activities or sports to compete for prizes – this can go a long way toward strengthening connections.
- Bring back the deskside check-in. Not all meetings are created equal. While many organizations have successfully transitioned to virtual meetings, it has come at the expense of quick conversations in the kitchen or casual stopping by a client’s office. Bring this back with 10-minute one-on-one check-ins on a singular topic at least once a week. And don’t limit it to business matters only – the sky’s the limit on what you and a colleague can chat about!
- Bring back the phone call. It can be easy to unconsciously power through the day with little-to-no personal contact other than emails or text messages. Engaged managers should set aside time daily and weekly to reach out and connect with teammates and clients with a simple phone call. They don’t have to be long – they should also sincerely ask this question: “how are you and how can I help?” This keeps the lines of communication open and demonstrates to team members and clients that their interests remain top of mind.
- Set virtual “office hours.” Professors regularly hold office hours where students are able to stop by to ask questions about an upcoming exam or a specific assignment. Why can’t a similar concept apply to the workplace? Hosting regular “office hours,” where clients and team members know they can pop into a Zoom room or chat via phone, eliminates confusion and boosts overall engagement. It also helps brokers continue to build out their business pipeline, especially as open enrollment season comes to a close.
The work-from-home environment isn’t going away any time soon — in fact, it may not be until the second or third quarter of 2021 before a sense of normalcy reenters the corporate world. Until then, it’s important that brokers do everything they can to foster engagement with team members and clients. It is a number-one priority for any top-performing team and broker.
SOURCE: Word, J. (28 December 2020) “Zoom meeting fatigue: How to maintain productivity in the grind of WFH’ (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/zoom-meeting-fatigue-how-to-maintain-productivity-in-the-grind-of-wfh