After over a year of pandemic working, I think we can safely assume that many people are burned out from Zoom. A recent article, citing research by Dr. Jeremy Bailenson, explained why Zoom is in fact so much more tiring than meeting in person or just simply having a conference call. I encourage you to read the article, but the short version is that we have lots of close-up eye contact, looking at ourselves more, higher cognitive load, and that mobility is reduced. The article linked above offers some solutions to these issues.
Meetings take up so much time in our work schedule, and the reality is, does everything really need to be a video meeting? The default was Zoom this past year, which grew from 4 million in revenue in 2018 to 21.7 million in 2020. And now it almost seems like people have forgotten the phone since we aren’t necessarily walking to our coworkers office. Now the question becomes how many people are planning to go back to the office? What does the future of work look like? And if people continue to work from home, do we need to continue video meetings all the time?
Personally, I have started to ask for a phone whenever a video isn’t necessary for the communication piece. Yes, a lot of communication is nonverbal, but quick check-ins can be much more expedient through a phone call rather than waiting for everyone to log into Zoom because inevitably someone will talk and forget they are still on mute and then have to repeat themselves anyway.
I admit, my default this past year has also been to just initiate a Zoom meeting from the get go. However, I’ve started to ask people what they prefer when scheduling meetings. A little over a month ago, someone asked for phone and it got me thinking about how automatic my response is these days to schedule a Zoom. So now I like to give people the choice. I have found that even if you are sharing documents, you can actually do so by using Google Drive products and just use your full screen to view the shared document while having the phone on speaker.
However, my very informal Twitter poll is informing me that 82% of the people voting (of my tiny sample size), do in fact still want Zoom for a meeting with 2-3 people, and someone even commented that they prefer phone for 2 people, but Zoom for 3. So perhaps there’s an advantage to Zoom with the more people you have on the call. It’s certainly easier to tell who is speaking when you can see their little square light up.
For me, I’m going to start scaling back on the video and upping my phone usage, or maybe just declining meetings in general. Perhaps it just needs to be an email. Check out this post for some email tips and this post for video tips.
Pro tip: When scheduling meetings, be empathetic to the people you’re asking to be on video. Ask them if phone would be easier. Maybe they need to do the dishes on the conference call or maybe, just maybe, like me, they are Zoomed out.