It’s pretty hard to see the positives in weeks like this. We’re bracing ourselves for what looks like the most stringent lockdown so far and even the most resilient of us are dog tired with all the “bouncing back” the new “work-from-home” normal demands. So it’s OK to feel fed-up. It’s OK to be despondent, and it’s even OK to be thinking maybe it’s time to throw in the towel. But it’s not OK to think like that for long 😉
Let’s face it: last year we’d almost nailed it. When this pandemic first hit us in early 2020, we ran at it headfirst. We didn’t always know what we were running at and, at times, our tactics were powered by raw frenzy, but in the months that followed, we carved out a game plan. We started to make sense of the new work environment we’re all part of now. We tried and tested new ways of working, and Eureka – sometimes they worked!
Here are four new work habits we adopted in 2020 that we’re going to do more of in 2021. All of these things helped us take control of the virtual workplace, get things done more efficiently, and keep us connected and engaged with clients and colleagues.
Make every Zoom call a collaborative work session
Ah yes, good old face-to-face meetings: we remember them well. Habitually scheduled to suit the weekly or monthly cadence typical of important change, this traditional business ritual uprooted workers from their natural habitats and herded them into specially purposed “meeting rooms”.
Throughout this entire period of meeting history, very little productivity actually occurred in the meeting room itself. Working productively with colleagues and clients during the meeting was almost impossible because all the things to work on were somewhere else (usually in the natural habitats that all the participants had left in order to get to the specially purposed meeting room on time).
Today’s work environment has made this entire ritual redundant, and that can be a good thing. But to make things work you need to rethink the meeting format. Why use your live time with clients and colleagues online to run through agendas listing “things to do” when everything you actually need to “do things” is already right there in front of you? Just pick two or three things on the agenda and use the collaborative time you have together to actually do them.
Speed up the workflow with calendar scheduling apps
Emails that ask: “When might you be available to talk?” or “Just jot down some times that work for you next week and I’ll propose a date you can schedule?” can scupper progress for days, if not weeks. Meeting apps like Calendly or Hubspot’s “book a meeting” make all these unnecessary emails disappear. At the start of the pandemic, using apps like these sometimes felt a little presumptuous or too assertive, but over the course of the past months (in our experience at least) they’ve become really valuable tools that help fast track decision making.
Make core content of your video conf calls “on demand”
How many times do you end up on a Zoom call just sharing your screen and presenting some insight or data? Over the course of last year, we calculated that about 25% of most of our Zoom sessions were actually just one person presenting key data or findings. 75% focused on debate and dialogue based on these findings.
Last September, we started to think it might be more useful to pre-record these meeting segments and let others view the material before the live session. We use Loom to do this and it’s working pretty well. It’s not for everyone and we’ll always go through the same material live too, but in general, people seem better informed when the live conference does take place. They’ve had time to digest the core content before the video conf, at a time that suits them, so questions are generally more considered and better decisions are made faster during the live video conference session that follows.
Make more of social platforms
Voice calling has become one of the least compelling apps on the phone these days and for many, email has become a close second. But WhatsApp, Linkedin, Twitter and all the rest have spent millions developing the irresistible platforms we all love to engage with – so use them to help get things done. When a quick answer to a question will unblock a project, ask it over Messenger. When colleagues and clients post content on Linkedin: share, engage and comment.