Make Remote Work Better for Everyone

Some of us are lucky enough to have been working remotely for a long time. We are used to Zoom calls. We get that the bulk of the work will happen on Slack or email rather than in the conference room. In the old days, however, there was always at least one meeting in person. We actually shook hands with our new clients.

Now, there are no meetings in person. Everyone is on Zoom with us, and we are all on Zoom all the time. All we know about newer colleagues is how they look from the neck up, and what books they have on a tiny square chunk of their bookcase.

So three quick thoughts, with the goal of making an all-remote work environment work better for a team project.

First, use the whole array of connections that you have. If you are on Zoom, use the video, and the chat, and even polling. Whiteboard on the video call? Yes. Try to give the people who are working on the project with you as many different ways to play as possible.

Second, if you’re working on a big project — like an organizational strategic plan — just acknowledge right now that it will take longer. It will take longer to do because you can do less at each gathering. While you are trying to use all the interactions, you are still missing so many cues and synergies that can make a plan come together faster.Zoom calls better with pets

And third, allow time — make time — for more-casual interactions. Have someone bring their puppy to show off, or — as a colleague did on one of our team calls — invite a donkey. The laugh you all have when an actual donkey shows up in one of the video squares will be transformative. If you don’t have a donkey in your back pocket, simpler fun can be just as good. Break up a long session by playing a word game like Places, where each person has to come up with a place that starts with the last letter of the previously named place.

One of my colleagues has just shipped a half bottle of Champagne and salty snacks to each of our houses. We’ll be getting on a Zoom call next week for our “office holiday party.” Not sure what we’ll talk about, but we will each have a glass in hand and a plate of little nibbles to enjoy together. It is weird, that’s for sure. But we’re finding ways to support each other in this world of all-remote, all-the-time. That part feels good.