Smiling woman meeting via video
Source: Matilda Wormwood/Pexels
I’m starting to believe the Earth is flat. In my little world, most of my career-coaching clients, graduate students, and presentation audiences across the globe exist in two dimensions, inside the frame of my computer screen (flat like a map!). We haven’t experienced one another in 3D—no handshakes or real eye contact, nor any discernible height, while we get beamed around from the shoulders up.
As we continue our swirl into a more hybrid world, even if you strongly prefer interacting in the flesh, consider the advantages of joining me in a happy Zoom-walk on 2D terrain. You might argue that we just appear to be moving forward, while we’re actually taking a step backward, as in the moonwalk dance move Cab Calloway first performed in the 1930s. I say bosh to the backward part of that mirage as it applies to the workplace. Even if you may not agree, stay with me—if even just for the duration of a walk or a dance—on the benefits of a 2D work-life.
Over the past couple of years, more and more of the fellow “Flat Earthlings” who were dots on my world map have become pixels on my desktop—yet brimming with the same hopes and challenges as their 3D selves, whom I may never experience. Are the relationships we’ve built any less in the Zoomosphere? For me, no. Our conversations have been focused and purposeful. Also, I love that video meetings make it easy to connect meaningfully with colleagues near and far at multiple points on my world map (flat, just sayin’!).
Sure, I have to appear in person sometimes. Have to? Yes, the introvert at my core wouldn’t complain if she never had to give another talk in person. I know that sounds extreme, but we all get to dream. When my head is below the clouds, I still enjoy contact with humans in 3D: some of them, some of the time. So, regardless of the oscillating health guidelines around meeting in person, I’ve continued to keep most of my talks and coaching in the virtual world, which I prefer for its seamless borders and endless horizons. It suits my professional pursuits and personal preferences.
Still, fulfillment in the virtual world is in the eye of the beholder: Many of my colleagues dread video meetings and Webinars. If I haven’t worn you down with my veritable love letter to the likes of the monosyllabic (yet two-dimensional!) trifecta of Zoom, Meets, and Teams, consider the benefits that they bring, despite their wonkiness, like many a darling .
1. Deliver Increased Productivity
In a survey of 800 employers, Mercer, a human resources and workplace benefits consultancy, found productivity “was the same or higher since employees started working from home.” Incidentally, more than two-thirds of the clients I’ve informally surveyed have expressed a strong preference for working online at least some of the time. I can relate to that—and appreciate the efficiency of those meetings.
Three colleagues at video meeting in a conference room
Source: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels
2. Save Time and Money
Many of my clients who prefer remote work have mentioned enjoying the time and money they save from their reduced commutes. They are also grateful for the luxury of wearing mismatched fuzzy socks. Speaking of which, only having to be presentable from the shoulders up means fewer dry cleaning bills for some.
3. Enable More Recharging
My clients who identify as introverts say they feel zapped from the overstimulation of meeting after meeting when onsite—without being able to recharge. Although they still have few breaks from back-to-back meetings when working remotely, many of them say the reduced time getting to and fro gives them more time for self-care at the beginning and end of their workdays.
Woman at video meeting from her kitchen
Source: Ekaterina Bolovtsova/Pexels
4. Build Better Boundaries
As an introvert myself, I love boundaries— that no one can just drop by my virtual office with a “quick question.” That helps me stay on course on my missions into the inner-outer space in which I thrive (namely, time to think alone). Many of my clients claim the same, and they say it can be hard to maintain those boundaries in the “always-on” culture of many organizations.
5. Reduce Disease Risk
As a “maskne” sufferer who has had COVID-19, despite being vaccinated and boosted, I’m still all in when it comes to remote work. Aside from the lightning rods that face masks, vaccines, and social distancing have all become, I am clear about my own preferences—and recognize they’re not universal. As someone with frequent exposure to high-risk individuals, I remain guarded about in-person contact that I don’t consider essential, especially while my home base of New York City is at a fill-in-the-blank alert for COVID- 19. Ah, and now monkeypox—and whatever might be next.
We all have our reasons for preferring or opposing working from home and its sticky sidekick, virtual meetings, either all the time or at turns. Our home environments, including where and with whom we live, our feelings about privacy and our appearance, as well as the availability of high-speed Internet, are among the many factors that sway us one way or the other.
Wherever you work, the benefits of communicating meaningfully, whether in 2D, 3D, or a mix, are myriad. Heavens, who’s counting? I’d rather continue doing a happy Zoom-walk, and hope you’ll join me at least some of the time.
© 2022 Nancy Ancowitz