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Life is too short to struggle through Zoom fatigue and bad meetings

Zoom fatigue. Know that feeling you get after staring at faces on the computer screen all day when you’re working from home? Then you spend evenings on FaceTime and HouseParty, chatting with friends and family – trying to make up for what you’ve lost during isolation. We’re even more overloaded with screen-time and meetings than we ever were.

In the last few years I’ve been playing a bit of a game in the workshops I run. “Raise your hand if you aren’t attending enough meetings.” (No, you guessed it: no one ever does.) This is generally met with groans and some rumbling about meetings: “boring time-wasters; platforms for people’s personal agendas and grandstanding; overused; interfere with ‘real work’”. Sound familiar? Online interactions have picked up where face-to-face meetings left off and are recreating – even exaggerating – all the dysfunction we’ve allowed to become the norm.

Let’s take the chance to create our “new normal”.

Since March I’ve been running leadership workshops as all-day webinars. Yep, you read that correctly – ALL day webinars! ‘Webishops’, I call them. In fact, they’re often multiple days in a row. I was initially sceptical. So were the participants. But then something surprising started to happen – as we experimented with the technology, we found a bit of fun and inspiration in unexpected new ways (hint – watch what happens if you spontaneously pop people into new breakout groups to mix up the group dynamic).

And it got me thinking… there are things to be gained going forward from this. We can learn to be better at how we meet together, offline as well as on.

I’m betting once we return to shared workplaces, we’ll keep having a lot more screen meetings than we were used to a year ago. However we meet, these interactions will continue to be a significant part of our working lives. So let’s use these new online platforms to practice being better at them. There’s certainly no shortage of opportunity to practice. Would you believe we can go all the way back to Aristotle for guidance on this?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Interrupt the old habits. Let’s work on making a great new normal.


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