Working from home has provided us with some important learnings in regard to our everyday interactions in job life.
Two months ago I was working at a large and scattered domicile, where we ran around between meeting rooms every full or half hour. The main part of the participants were present in the very same physical meeting room. The smaller part called in from other parts of Denmark or offshore.
In the last two months I, as well as many others, have been sitting in the very same chair all day long. Instead of moving around between locations, I have switched between Skype, Teams and phone calls.
Although I have missed the regular physical exercise in running between locations throughout the day, there are a few important observations that we should value while they are still happening – and if possible – take with us in our future way of working, whether at home, in the office or in combination.
1: Equal premises create equal dialogue
Before: The group of colleagues present in the same meeting room dominated the call. The more people int he room, the worse. The colleagues calling in had a tuff time jumping in to the conversation.
Now: I experience participants take turn and get a better at sensing when to make space and when to jump in the conversation.
2: The sense of listening comes first
Before: The sense of dominating/take control came first. Personal agendas could be very visible and counterproductive.
Now: The sense of listening comes first. I experience a stronger effort and tolerance regarding understanding the purpose of the meeting and supporting the agenda. We seem to be better at listening and make space for each other.
3: Reinforcement of shared storytelling and co-creation
Before: The host of the meeting was the primary participant to share his/her presentation – trying his/her very best to keep focus at the agenda and expected output.
Now: Even if it was possible before, I have experienced an increasing taking turn in presenting during the meeting – almost like a demo culture. This way of sharing seems to reinforce storytelling and co-creation.
4: Increased politeness embraces differences in culture
Before: Especially Danish citizens have a habit of jumping in your face and to the point. Whereas my Indian colleagues take their time to touch base.
Now: Every call seem to start with a health check across participants. A polite exchange of personale status. In this way the conference call seem to embrace different cultures.
5: Relaunch of the important role of hosting the meeting
Before: As mentioned in #2 personal agendas previously had the tendency to highjack the meeting.
Now: The host of the meeting seems to enjoy a higher level of respect among the participants. When handled the right way, allowing everyone to speak, the meetings seem to meet a higher level of productivity and quality, compared to when each one of us tried to conquer the meeting.
6: Finally – this one is going to divide opinions – conference allows for multitasking
Before: Even if we tried to highjack the agenda, we tended to agree that checking e-mails doing a meeting was a no-go.
Now: While listening and being out of sight, e-mails can quickly be written or responded to, without anyone noticing. At the end of the day, the ongoing cleanup of the inbox makes a huge difference, often allowing us to close the laptop soon after our last call.
Moving back to physical meetings – or getting used to digital dialogue (the new normal) – how can we keep up the good behaviour and benefit from it in our future everyday dialogue?