By now many of us have zoomed our way through days of meetings, virtual happy hours, book clubs, workouts and even family game nights from afar. Zoom is amazing, don’t get me wrong. It was there waiting for us when our entire lives went remote overnight.
But video conferencing can be exhausting. How completely distracting is it to see yourself on the screen all the time?! “Is that how I really look?”, “Did I really do that bad of a job on my ‘Covid cut DIY’ bangs last night?” and on and on. We’re visually jumping around a screen trying to track where everyone is, what their home office or living room is like or that snazzy new background and how the top of their head fades away into it randomly.
Video conferencing is awesome, some of the time.
It’s the closest thing we have to a meeting in person right now. Seeing people’s faces can help us feel more connected, giving us some of the emotional cues we need like head nodding, smiling and those micro facial expressions that keep us in sync.
It’s a good idea to start switching up your communication channels if you haven’t already.
There’s something surprisingly connecting about just hopping on the phone. It takes all the pressure off right now, of what we look like and what we should look like we’re doing. We can just talk, and listen, and be however we are in our sweats and slippers. When it’s a one on one or a group of five or under, just pick up the phone.
Conference calls are tough.
It’s not easy to stay focused when you’ve got a lot of people on the phone. However, if you can engage people in an interactive way with virtual whiteboards or a virtual board like Trello, you can even make conference calls engaging, taking the pressure off the video.
Texting has its place too.
For quick questions or check-ins with individuals, a text is great and people usually respond quickly. We use group text like Slack on our team, for everything from daily virtual huddles to posting our work and asking each other questions. We’re constantly connected throughout every day by group text. Slack keeps us organized with “channels” and moving forward. We love our “water cooler” and our “good stuff” channels where we chat about the stuff we’d normally chat about in the office.
So, mix it up!
Everyone communicates differently, and just like anything else, we all have preferences. Instead of over-relying on one way of communicating, spread it around. Maybe your once a week team meetings are video, but huddles are by phone or text. Small workgroups and one on ones are by phone and virtual happy hours go back on video.
Ask your team.
What kind of communication is your team preferring these days? Ask them so you can make sure to use the channels that work best for everyone. We’re all learning as we go right now. The important thing is that we are learning. That way we can flex and adjust along the way.