Answer this question: have you ever been in a Zoom call? If you have, this article concerns you, so read carefully. If you haven’t, you should still read it because chances are sooner or later you’ll find yourself taking part in a Zoom meeting anyway.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned since the Covid-19 pandemic started – apart from the fact that no one is ever ready to deal with a pandemic – is that remote work at scale is possible. The outbreak forced us to adapt to a new normal and change many of our habits, and the way we work has also suffered major transformations.
Organizations all around the world started embracing a remote work model in order to continue their activities in a safe manner. And that’s where Zoom (and other video-conferencing apps) entered the chat to make things easier for everyone.
There’s no denying that Zoom is a very useful tool that enables remote teams to connect and work together efficiently. But this efficiency largely depends on how the app is being used. Unfortunately, many of the bad habits that were present in the traditional office setting before the start of the pandemic have now moved online, via Zoom.
Long story short, in many instances, Zoom meetings are a complete waste of time and they can seriously impact productivity. So let’s take a look at some of the situations in which Zoom calls could have just been an email.
When less is more
When you work in a physical office setting, you can simply go talk to any of your team members face to face and communicate what you need to communicate directly. When working remotely that’s not an option. Yet a lot of people want to replicate this way of interacting through Zoom calls.
Whenever they have to ask a simple question or pass on a message, they hit that call button without thinking twice. Because they simply feel the need to see and hear the other person live, although that’s not necessarily helpful.
Needless to say, abusing the Zoom call button is not a good idea. A lot of these Zoom calls can easily be a quick phone call, an email or even a text message. If it’s not a pressing matter that requires consultation with other team members and extensive discussion, why go through all the trouble of holding a Zoom meeting?
Not only can it be extremely time consuming, but it can also interrupt people while they’re trying to take care of more important tasks. And we all know that constant interruptions are productivity killers. So next time you need to communicate information, stop for a moment and ask yourself if a Zoom meeting is absolutely necessary or not.
Lack of planning and structure
Many times Zoom meetings end and leave participants feeling like they’ve gained nothing out of it. That usually happens because these meetings very often suffer from lack of planning and structure. It’s very common for people to find themselves in a Zoom meeting where there’s no agenda, no plan, no timeline and everything seems to happen randomly.
Whoever is in charge of running the meeting should definitely plan it thoroughly, or else nothing good is going to come out of it. That involves setting a clear objective, creating an agenda, respecting the timeline, addressing all the points on the agenda, drawing conclusions etc.
On top of that, there’s also the security issue that is sometimes overlooked by Zoom users and can lead to unpleasant surprises that go beyond wasting precious time. It appears that Zoom has several vulnerabilities that not everyone is aware of.
These raises questions over the safety measures one should take while using the Zoom app. Organizations have to understand the risks they expose themselves to when using video-conferencing tools like Zoom, and stay informed on safety matters if they want to tackle these issues properly.
How many is too many?
Another aspect that can make the difference between a successful Zoom conference and a very dull and unproductive meeting is the number of participants. When meetings are indeed required, one also has to take into consideration who has to be there and who doesn’t.
More often than not, these virtual gatherings are overly crowded with people who are only partially present but they don’t bring any real contribution to the event. You’ll see them staring idly at the screen while just two or three participants are leading the conversation.
So if not everyone has something to bring to the table or the topic of discussion doesn’t really concern them, why organize a meeting with so many people? When you invite ten people to a Zoom meeting there are two possible scenarios: it’s either complete chaos or radio silence.
None of these options seem helpful, so we suggest finding a middle ground, and that can be done by limiting meetings to three people when possible and letting the rest carry on with their tasks. That way, everyone can be productive in their own way.
The annoying one hour mark
We don’t really know how this happened, but it appears there’s this absurd unwritten rule that Zoom meetings have to last at least one hour. So it really doesn’t matter that a meeting can be concluded in half an hour or less. Efforts will be made to fill in the rest of the time up to the already traditional one hour mark with idle conversation or awkward pauses. And there’s no other reason for this other than sticking to the schedule.
Instead of planning a one hour meeting just for the sake of it, one should consider the time needed to discuss all the points on the agenda and tailor the meeting accordingly. The whole point of having a Zoom meeting is to address certain issues in a timely manner, so everyone can get back to work and take care of their specific tasks.
Zoom meetings are here to stay, but it’s up to each organization to use this tool properly if they want to make the most of it.