Zoom Zombie?

Dear Dr. Jim,
We’ve all heard of Zoom fatigue, but what else should I be aware of or watch out for?
– Marie-Hélène

 

Hi Marie-Hélène,
During this time of Zoom meetings that seem to be back to back, by the end of the day you’re like a marathon runner who’s run out of gas – you’re struggling and trying to keep your thoughts together.

So that’s one thing: too many meetings too close together. Another thing is going to meetings you shouldn’t be in. You should also be aware of taking time off during the day. Go for a walk. Even 15 minutes can make a big difference.

Now, I want to explain something that goes on when you start getting Zoom fatigue, and this research is from Dr. Travis Bradberry (see diagram in video):

  • Boredom/Depression: When we’re down here, we’re kind of bored, depressed, and wondering “What am I doing?” We hear this from little kids: “I’m bored, Mom,” because there’s not much going on and there’s a low stress level.
  • Increased Attention/Interest: What happens as you start performing more and there’s a little bit more stress, you have increased attention and interest, and that’s why it’s really important to be doing things that are of interest to you because you can handle a fair bit of stress (which is part of life) and do well in terms of what you need to do at a certain level.
  • Optimal Performance: Then you get up to this optimal performance level, and that’s where we’re at our best. It depends on:
    • Skills
    • Motivation
    • Surroundings
    • Organizational impact (e.g., too many demands, not enough demands, unclear demands, etc.)
  • Strong Anxiety: What begins to happen when our stress levels get higher, but the demands are still there, people start feeling strong anxiety and then performance starts going down.
  • Complete Meltdown: After which you can get to an awful place of complete meltdown, where you just can’t function anymore.

One of the cues to look out for when you’re working is whether you can still have clear thoughts and move through your priorities that you have set. If you find yourself staring at the screen, unable to maintain concentration, you’re getting into anxiety area, and that, on a long term basis is very self-destructive to your health.

Take care of yourself.  Thank you.
– Dr. Jim

*names have been changed

No Show

Dear Dr. Jim,

My new manager is insisting we use our video cameras during virtual meetings. Is this really necessary? My previous manager was fine with us having them off.
– Holly*

 

Holly,

Would you go to a face-to-face meeting with a bag over your head? No you wouldn’t.

That’s what it’s like to be in a meeting where people are not on video. You can’t see them. Most people are probably multitasking and not fully paying attention, so it just kind of screws up the whole thing.

Now, I realize there can be connection problems and things like that, and that’s fine, but everybody should be up on video – ready and present, so you can SEE one another, and interact with one another, like you’re together, almost face-to-face. This helps reduce people not paying attention and multitasking.

So when you’re in meetings, whether it be Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Workplace, etc., come on video, look at one another, and be interactive and pay attention. Also look at the camera – that’s really important, too.

Your meetings will become much more interesting and you’ll be able to see each other. Get over your shyness – it’s fun! Once you get over it, you’ll find it much easier. It’s just a matter of moving into a different way of doing things. Hopefully this is helpful.

– Dr. Jim

*names have been changed

Try Our 30-Day Meeting Challenge!

You may already be working on some personal goals—exercise, yoga or drinking more water—but have you set your sights on any professional goals? We have an idea for you and your team!

We’re challenging YOU to cut meeting times by 25% to increase team effectiveness while saving time and money.

To get started, download our 30-Day Meeting Challenge Tracker – it’s rewarding to see your efforts pay off!

Print Version (PDF)
Spreadsheet (Excel)

Here are some tips on how to do it well:

  1. Cut every scheduled one-hour meeting to 45 minutes – no exceptions! (Few meetings deserve an hour, many deserve only 20-25 minutes tops.)
  2. Have an agenda for every meeting and stick to it.
  3. Begin and end every meeting on time.
  4. Consider who needs to be in the meeting. Does everyone have to be in the meeting for the entire time?
  5. Does the project or topic need to be a regular meeting or only as necessary?
  6. For all virtual meetings everyone has cameras on to increase connection and efficiency.

After the 30 days, divide your number of meetings under 45 minutes by your total number of meetings (then multiply by 100) to get your final score.

For added fun and accountability, collect money for a local charity as part of the challenge!

Let us know how you did at:
Email: hello@vivoteam.com
Social:
#30daymeetingchallenge
Facebook: vivoteamdevelopment
Twitter: @vivoteams
Instagram: @vivoteamdevelopment

Spice It Up!

Dear Dr. Jim,
Working from home can get monotonous. How can I spice it up for the New Year?
– Sam*

 

Hi Sam,
I’ve been working remotely for about 20 years, and it’s certainly different now than it was a year ago before COVID hit. So, there’s that to consider.

First of all, find your comfort level. Set up your area so it’s as comfortable as you can make it for yourself.

The next thing is focus on priority setting, not time management. Every day or week, whichever is your preference, decide what the first item on your list is that you want to get done, what’s the second, the third, and try to work through those items throughout the day or week.

Something else that I do every day, all day, is I make sure to take breaks at least every 30 or 40 minutes. I go somewhere, I get away from my computer, I do something else. I may call or Zoom with a friend or colleague to have some interactions with people, to just have a chat.

Make sure that you feed yourself well. Stay away from the junk food, it’s not a good thing — you start to feel crappy after a while. Also, every day I try to do some kind of exercise. I get out of the office, go outside, walk around safely (i.e., social distancing), to bring in some variety.

Another thing is to make sure that you set up times when you’re going to work. And, whenever you stop, make sure you turn off your computer, the displays, the whole thing to help disciplining yourself to stay away from the computer. Because what we’re finding with people who are working remotely is that once you start getting bored you go back to your computer and start doing more work.

Finally, make sure you get enough sleep. It’s really important in terms of making sure you keep your energy up.

These are some of the things I do on a regular basis and it seems to be working.

Hopefully this is helpful!
– Dr. Jim

*names have been changed

Digital Visibility Tools and Techniques

It’s not fun to have to track people down or be tracked down. Increasing digital visibility among your remote or blended team boosts productivity and reduces stress. With a bit of structure and accountability to digital transparency, your team will thrive.

According to our blended workforce poll, a whopping 75.9% of respondents are now working remotely at least some of the time (55.2% of respondents are working at home only, while 20.7% are working at home and in the office). That’s why it’s so important to consider the structures and tools available to help your remote and blended team succeed!

Business Communication Platform

Visibility into projects can greatly decrease errors and communication breakdowns. Does your team use something like Slack or Microsoft Teams to share information about clients or projects? If not, it’s worth investigating.

At Vivo Team, we share what our priorities are for the day in a Slack channel called daily updates. This can also be accomplished in a quick huddle. Our norm is to set ourselves to “away” if we need to be away from our computer to save our team members the hunt. 

File Sharing

If you are sick or on vacation or even unavailable because of meetings, do you have a way to access shared files that your team members are working on? This again can be a huge productivity stuck point for remote teams. Whether it’s an intranet or Google Workspace (formally G-Suite), there are lots of options for increasing file sharing capacities within a team.

At Vivo Team, we have a carefully organized file system in Google Workspace for project files, documents, spread sheets and more that the entire team can access.

Shared Calendars

If you are working on a remote team, there is a good chance that it will be time-consuming to book a team meeting. By sharing calendars, this time can be greatly decreased. It might be that you only show business times, but that in itself is a huge time-saving.

At Vivo Team, we are able to access all team members calendars so we can easily see when people are available for meetings. Our norm is, if the time is open in my calendar I am available for a meeting. We are able to book team or project meetings without sending a single email!

Popular Tools

Our poll indicated that the most used tools are Zoom (69%), Microsoft Teams (48.3%), Google Meet (27.6%) and Slack (20.7%). However, it’s less important what the tool is, the agreement is what is important. If you are in a smaller company who doesn’t have a business communication platform, the team can instead agree to share information in other ways, such as via email or through a huddle.

Has your remote team worked out ways to increase your digital visibility? If not, there’s an opportunity here – establish your norms today and stay accountable!

Virtual Meeting Tools

9 Tips for Running a Virtual MeetingEffective Virtual Meeting Norms

Suddenly, some or all of your teams are working remotely—many of whom are not experienced doing so! What now?

By agreeing to a set of meeting behaviours, teams increase productivity and engagement significantly. Just because it’s obvious to you doesn’t mean it is to everyone. Get your team on the same page! Here is a video and handout for you to share with your team:

WATCH VIDEO >

DOWNLOAD HANDOUT (PDF) >

 

The D.O.S.E. The D.O.S.E.

Effectively connect with and be accountable to your team and projects by introducing a D.O.S.E. (Direct Ongoing Swift Encounter)

Efficiently keep everyone on your team in the loop with this tactical, 10-12 minute meet up designed to share information, clarify stuck points, celebrate small wins, and get clear on priorities. Try bi-weekly to start and increase frequency if necessary.

Here is a handout for you to share with your team:

DOWNLOAD HANDOUT (PDF) >

 

The Secret to Successful Team MeetingsSuccessful Meetings

Appreciations, difficulties, and final statements is a technique we use to close down every meeting.

It’s really important to encourage everyone to have a voice and employees, managers and leaders should all participate. Why? Everyone gets the opportunity to say something at the end of the meeting, people can give and receive immediate feedback, everyone has an understanding of how that meeting went, and more. Here is a handout for your team:

DOWNLOAD HANDOUT (PDF) >

How to Shine Online!How to Shine Online

More energy, more engagement, and more active listening.  

You can shine online! Whether you are a team member, manager or leader, use these guidelines to meaningfully show up for, participate in, or lead your virtual meetings. Here’s a handout to share with your team:

DOWNLOAD HANDOUT (PDF) >

More Work or Working More?

Dr. Jim,
I notice I’m working longer hours now that I am at home. Are things busier or is it just more accessible?
-Ryan*

 

Hi Ryan,
It’s probably both! Working from home, like I have been doing for the last 15 years, requires discipline.

One of the things I do when I’m done working is completely shut down my computer. The other thing is to be very disciplined on the weekends about your time. Be very careful that you don’t drift back to doing work. Stop it, please! Because, what happens over time is that you begin to burn out because you are always on.

The convenience of having your desk right there is that when you think, oh I forgot to do that, you go do it. Instead, go to your desk and write it on a Post It note for later. If you don’t set boundaries you are you’re going to find yourself working all the time.

Your partner, if you have one, is going to get frustrated, your children will say mommy or daddy are on the computer all the time. Discipline yourself to only work on your decided, appointed times. You’ll find much more satisfaction.
– Dr. Jim

 

*names have been changed