The COVID-19 lockdown forced many organizations to a remote work mode. Recently, I spoke with three managers from three “conventional” companies and all the three told me how surprisingly efficient their 1:1 meetings became. This is how one of them described the situation “I prepare the agenda, we log in, boom, boom, boom, and we are done”.
The effectiveness of distributed work doesn’t surprise me, after all, I have been working in a distributed mode for about six years now. However, this super-efficiency has its own problems that one needs to know. Here’s the thing. We, humans, are social creatures. We depend on social interactions for our mental and physical well being. When people share the same physical office, they have enough social interactions “in-between” — in the hallway, next to the watercooler and in the parking lot. However, working in a distributed team creates isolation. That is why it is very important to start and end every meeting with a personal conversation. It is also important to make sure that the meeting feels as personal as possible. To do so, place the chat window below the camera, so that the person feels as if you are looking at them. During the conversation, resist the urge to check emails, read your Facebook feed or check my blog. Make the personal meeting personal, even if it’s remote.
I have been working in distributed teams for about six years. If you need advice on how to make the transition easier for your organization, I’ll be glad to give one (or two).