Help! Another Zoom call!

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The evidence is clear - Zoom is draining our souls. This is not just my opinion, take it from the CEO's of JPMorgan, American Airlines, and Microsoft. These CEO's cry at the lack of innovation, imagination, and ultimately human connection of such calls. What at first seemed like a great and powerful tool to continue all business from remote locations now seems like a thousand paper cuts, one Zoom breakout room at a time.


Knowing that we can't go back inside with COVID cases skyrocketing in many parts of the country / world and given the need to keep working together, what can we do? Here are a few solutions your current company or organization may not be using.

  1. Go outside! Which is better? A 30 minute Zoom meeting once a week with your co-worker or supervisor or an hour long outdoors meeting once every 2 or 3 weeks? I'd take the outside opportunity every time. If you are at least reasonably close to each other geographically, meet at a park, an outdoor coffee shop, a neighborhood, a high school track, or a nature trail. Put on your masks and enjoy the fall weather (while you can!). You can be honest, you can connect, all the while providing a benefit for your health! Consider commuting time to such walks as work time, so that employees don't feel like they have to add time to their working day to engage in such an activity. If you especially worried about this, start the meeting on the phone while you each drive / ride to the meeting point, and then continue once you get there.

  2. Make a phone call. It's amazing - now that we have Zoom as an organizational norm people have forgotten how to call each other! You agree to a meeting and 10 seconds later a Zoom invite pops up on your screen! Did you agree to that? Buck this trend by getting your meeting counterpart(s) to agree to a phone call. Even better, combine these first two suggestions by having a phone call while being outside, even if you are at home. As exercise has been known to facilitate creativity, having everyone on their phones on walks / jogs could solve some of the innovation problems these CEO's lament.

  3. Break up the monotony. So many Zoom calls look exactly the same - this must be contributing to why such calls are so draining. Again, creativity doesn't come from routine, it comes from the unexpected. For your next meeting have everyone comment on Padlet or one of its competitors. Or edit a Google Doc together. Anything to change your approach and give everyone some Zoom-relief.

  4. Stop the meetings! Before, the main cost of having a meeting was time. Now that so many individuals are at home and using Zoom, meetings carry extra costs in terms of draining individuals. Meetings should be used when individuals are engaged and when decisions must be made. If you are just giving updates, give up the meeting! Realize that making someone go back-to-back-to-back is not good for them OR for the organization. Resist the urge managers!

Until we stop working on a COVID vaccine and start working on Zumreleaf (fake patent pending), we need to pay attention here. Being conscious of these problems and issues will help you and those around you keep sane during these extremely troubling times. Try out a solution or two, and ask your colleagues what works and what doesn't. You might be surprised by the results.