Where is this meeting anyway?

Gone are the days of wandering round a building trying to find the meeting room your next meeting is meant to be in. Now a days, in the new world of working from home and virtual meetings I seem to be wandering round the internet trying to find my next virtual meeting host.

One minute I’m in zoom, the next it’s over to Chime, then it’s Skype, hangouts or Teams.

I’ve had to download a load of new software/ sign up for new accounts etc; and have already (just the once thankfully) gotten lost and sat in the wrong virtual meeting space wondering why no-one else has turned up.

The art of remote working isn’t new to me (in the old world I worked at home 2-3 days a week anyway) but as everyone moves to this new way of working; I’ve gained a lot more meetings and workshops; and skipping between meeting spaces is a new challenge, and one I suspect i’m not alone in facing.

A virtual meeting!

So here are some top tips I’ve learnt so far:

  • Make sure meetings are 45 mins out of an hour; this leaves people 15 mins between meetings to stand up, move around, get a cuppa etc, before they load up their next meeting.
  • Make sure the meeting location is highlighted in the location, and again in the meeting text. I’ve spotted in a few meeting invites (possibly because we use G-suite) that hangouts seems to be in there, even when the meeting is actually on Zoom etc.
  • Check when setting up a meeting that everyone can access that meeting space (I can’t access Skype as we don’t use Microsoft) and ensure you’re highlighting the dial in option for those that need it.
  • As individuals taking ownership of our calendars and blocking out time when we are free for calls, or need to do something else* and aren’t available for meetings, to ensure we are not constantly running from one meeting to another with no time to ‘do stuff’
  • And as meeting organisers we should enable and encourage people to dip out of meetings when they get a phone call they have to take or need to do something else*, and come back when they can!
  • Don’t be afraid to recognise when you aren’t adding value to a meeting, or when you can add more value elsewhere and allow yourself to leave meetings you don’t have to be in; and as meeting organisers we should be calling our and encouraging people to do just that.

*Especially with more people having children at home, or others in the house also working from home.

The main takeaway for me is that it’s much easier when working from home to just sit at your desk all day; as I no longer have the onus on me to walk to my next meeting; or pop over to a colleagues desk for a chat; so I need the time between meetings to move around and stretch if nothing else. Secondly I’m more likely to leave a virtual meeting open even when I have other work to do and I can’t give it my full attention, as it’s just another screen; whereas before I was much better at being careful and prioritising my time when I had to be in the room physically; a bad habit and one I ( and others) need to make sure we’re not falling afoul of.

The world is changing and we need to change our working habits to stay healthy and productive. We can’t just make everything virtual, we need to adapt our working practices to make virtual work for us. Who knows if, or when, we will ever return to our old meeting rooms!

An empty meeting room