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Five creative ways to switch up your meetings

Wellbeing|Total Rewards|Talent
COVID 19 Coronavirus

By Amanda Scott , Sarah Gledhill and Natalie Nash | March 31, 2021

Helpful advice and tips for more engaging virtual meetings.

It’s amazing how quickly new norms can evolve in exceptional circumstances. I came back from maternity leave in the midst of the pandemic. Immediately, I was struck by how quickly the working world had built up new expectations around what it means to work virtually.

What are the new norms? Back-to-back video calls, where everyone seems compelled to stare, unblinkingly, at the screen. Absolutely no moving from whatever desk area you’ve managed to lay a claim to in your home.

It’s time to question some of these norms and think of ways to make digital working more enjoyable and productive.

Here are five ways to shake things up:

Walk and talk

Walking can fire up your brain and make you more creative. I find it can also help me to break up the monotony of video calls and listen more deeply to the conversation, because I anchor specific moments of the conversation to landmarks on my walk. I’m also passionate about coaching individuals so find that doing a coaching walk early in the morning is the ideal time for people to reflect on their past and get excited about their future. You could suggest it for your next team meeting or one-to-one.

Sofa chats

For less formal meetings, why not try curling up on the sofa or changing your location? Even if you need to see some slides, raise your hand on Teams or contribute to the chat, you don’t always need to be at your desk. This could be great for a breakfast meeting, a sales huddle or a more informal coffee catch-up.

Pro-tip: Additionally, for conferences or events, I use a USB dongle to connect my laptop to my TV, which helps me step away from my inbox and focus more on the speakers.

On your toes

An expectation has grown that people should stare at their screen like newscasters when on video calls. Think about how different this is to in-person meetings, when people naturally look around the room, use their hands or stand up to get a coffee.

To break up the monotony, why not stand up, do some stretches or start preparing lunch whilst you’re in those bigger meetings where you might not need to contribute as much? Lunch and learns and webinars are a great place to start. You may need your laptop close by to look at any slides, but why not walk around your kitchen to get those steps in?

Another thing to try is scheduling 25 or 55-minute meetings, so that everyone has time to get up, stretch and grab a tea or coffee before their next session.

Pick up the phone

Remember when we used to call each other to ask a quick question? What happened to just picking up the phone to chat to colleagues or friends, does everything have to be a Zoom call now? These days, the culture seems to be to schedule a meeting when you have a query.

This habit is at risk of harming productivity. Scheduling meetings requires time and energy, even before we spend the time having the actual meeting. No wonder everyone seems busier than they were before the pandemic.

It’s also bad for new starters and junior team members. They might once have felt comfortable asking a question across a desk. Now, they may hesitate to schedule a meeting, feeling they are bothering their manager. The question risks going unanswered or taking extra time while they struggle to figure it out.

My advice? Rather than schedule a meeting, pick up the phone. Or, if the queries can wait, save up a few for your next catch-up and ask them all at once.

Go camera-free

Like Jeans for Genes days in the office, camera-free days can be remarkably liberating when working from home. If there is no reason to be on screen on a particular day, why not declare it camera free and make a donation to a charity that you’re passionate about?

Hope this is helpful, or at least gives you a moment to pause before setting up that next meeting. Many of us are getting used to work lives in the digital realm. But we should continue to challenge ourselves to find ways to enjoy working from home.


GB Head of Talent and Rewards

Sarah Gledhill
Associate Director - Change Management and Communication

Natalie Nash
Talent, Lead Associate

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