While we’ve had the ability to work remotely using digital tools, software and platforms for a while, the lockdown and working from home restrictions have pushed us even further in that direction.
Companies have been forced to allow remote work, so they will know that, post-pandemic, the capacity for this remains. Looking to the future, we will need to find a balance between person-to-person (face-to-face) work and remote work – especially when it comes to meetings.
Companies and employees need to ensure that they’re fully prepared to conduct and attend virtual meetings. This includes having the correct equipment and services (internet stability, headphones etc.) to ensure that meetings continue as though they were face-to-face.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean online meetings should replace all ‘in-person’ meetings. We need to find a balance that optimizes the advantages of each. Despite the advanced technology that allows us to interact visually, there is no software that can replace the subtle aspects of interpersonal communication. Digital meetings feel more artificial, so people are conscious of their behaviour. When face-to-face, however, people reveal their thoughts and feelings in small ways that can’t be replicated by meeting online.
The availability of split-second communication tools like WhatsApp, helps us to communicate quickly. But with written communication there is always the risk of being misunderstood. In cases where this might happen, making a phone call is a better option. We can convey feelings better vocally than we can over text. In addition, moving away from your desk to make a call gives you the chance to take a break.
As we navigate finding a balance between digital and remote working possibilities, it’s important to keep some basic etiquette in mind:
- Be as on time for a virtual meeting as you would be in person.
- Arrive prepared by having relevant documents and materials open and available.
- Virtual meetings can easily run over time because they can’t end physically, remember that people have the same time constraints as they always did.
- Set up a space at home that’s specifically for work (this will also help maintain the separation between work and personal life at home).
- Use the mute button when something in your home environment might disrupt a virtual meeting.
- Put the pajamas away!