How common are small talk in video conferences? My company seems to be divided between people who open up and ask everyone about their week or something, and people who come up with ideas so they can finish as quickly as possible. On the one hand, small conversations are forced, but on the other hand, it’s an easy opportunity to chat openly. What is the answer?
The first part of this section is opened with to remember about the magic of calling a meeting, and following one of my most important rules: Large video conferences should be a phone call, and most phones should be emails. I am no longer a manager, and I no longer have a real job, but being unemployed has strengthened my commitment to these ideas.
In my old life, a few days is spent somewhere in the order of seven or 10 Zoom meetings. By the end of the day, I am so tired of being able to hang out so often with my spouse, how about ordering online drinks around online drinks and birthday parties and so on that became common during the epidemic. Search for fatigue it’s real, and companies and managers need to do a much better job of banning video to take care of the lives of employees. Nowadays, I have one video session a week, about 2 percent of my total income in the past, and the only reduction has made me feel better than I did a few months ago.
In the midst of all of these meetings, I saw different ways to communicate (or not) with the conference facilitators. Most meetings open with five minutes or more on the small season discussions, where people come from, or yes, what they do on the weekends. (Once, kindly, I encountered a jumping ship – and asked each of the participants “what have you been doing in isolation?”) Others, however, held on tight. A former friend, the kind of guy who reads happiness management notes, was a (good!) Intrusion to get the meeting moving when the last person arrived. For most of us, we fell in the middle of the mushy – not really interested in making small conversations, but very gentle to end small conversations even though it was obvious that no one was enjoying it.
I admit that I tried to suppress the blink of an eye when her friend opened the meeting with an explosive, and she complained a little (while feeling sorry) even after a short chat. I would rather spend a few minutes stretching or drinking water or playing with my dog instead of thinking about what I do as a plague that looks like fun and hear a third person in a row sing praises to their painful beginnings. As you can see, calmly, I run to a friend who went through a lot of fun to get to the reasons why we were all there.
That said, as you correctly say, Matt, there’s a lot more value to casual interaction. I have found that people who have smaller meetings than I used to have can be very happy to see their friends, if they are just sitting at a window, and not wanting to run away. Running with a co-worker – especially one I don’t work with closely – on the porch or in the kitchen was a great way to work in the office, and often added to the conversations that made our work better in addition to feeling the warmth that made us work in a pleasant place. Losing this has added to the damage.
This is where I insist, no matter how hard you try, I think the last 16 months have shown us that I can’t bring the magic of casual conversation to online offices. Our epidemic has been different and dangerous for a variety of reasons, and I think it is better to recognize this rather than try to solve a problem that cannot be solved. Relationships between people who grow up out of the office do not come just for the fun of it or the list of activities that take place over the weekend, but from the kind of free conversations that only happen in person.