Today, I participated in a 2 1/2 hour Zoom meeting that seemed to fly by.
Sound impossible? Yes, if the meeting had been structured like a typical meeting, which is to say, essentially without structure.
Sitting on a meandering Zoom call for 2 1/2 hours was one of the punishments Dante placed in the eighth circle of Hell in The Inferno, or at least that’s my recollection–it’s been a while.
What made this call different was that it was broken up into four different segments, each with built-in interactivity. In addition, there was a formal restroom break between segments 3 and 4. By taking the time to structure the call, the organizers turned it into a productive and enjoyable experience.
But one of the best parts for me was actually something that I think was a mistake!
At one point, the organizers had something urgent to do, so the attendees were split off into pairs for five minutes and just told to catch up. Getting five minutes to catch up informally with a colleague was great. Zoom “socials” are fun, but spending an hour with a dozen people is ultimately it’s own form of tiring. In contrast, a 5-minute, 1:1 conversation with an old friend is a perfect re-energizer.
Life in the midst of a pandemic can be exhausting, which means it’s very tempting to rush through our Zoom meetings as “efficiently” as possible.
But our offices were never just physical places where we worked. They were also social spaces, where small social interactions were interspersed between meetings and individual work.
“Wasting” time on your Zoom calls by making room for these social micro-interactions may seem less efficient, but by meeting our social needs during a time when we’re starved for connection, doing so can make those meetings–and all your teammates–work much better.