Sep 8, 2020 - Economy

How to Zoom better

Illustration of the Zoom logo shutting its eyes.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

We're approaching six months of telework — and, for many Americans, that means six months of Zoom, Google Meet, Facetime, text messages and actual "phone calls" (remember those?).

Why it matters: The incessant video-conferencing is tiring CEOs and college students alike.

The big picture: I spoke with Marissa Shuffler Porter, a work psychologist at Clemson University, about strategies to make all those meetings suck a little less. "Any time that you’re going to have a Zoom meeting, it's important to know in advance what's okay and what's not," she says.

  • If it's the constant pressure to be on camera that's stressing workers out, companies could create a camera-off culture after introductions, or only ask speakers to show their faces.
  • People should also think through exactly how long video calls need to be — and they shouldn't shy away from scheduling 15-minute meetings. "We default to scheduling hourlong meetings, and then suddenly you’re in eight hourlong meetings in a day," says Porter.
  • Still, it's important to spend some time in meetings talking about non-work things. "Get rid of the 'Let’s get this over with' attitude," Porter tells Axios.
    • Many employees are craving workplace social interaction or working on projects with new hires they've never met in person. "Talking about something non-work-related goes a long way to build trust," she says.

The bottom line: "People always go to video-conferencing, and we need to not do that," Porter says. "We’ve jumped to it, and we’re really burning people out on it."

  • Before you send that Zoom invite, think, "Could this be a phone call?" Or even better: an email.
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