The majority of our clients are now in the midst of the third week of California’s shelter at home mandate. For the most part everyone seems to be settling into a semblance of routine, and our residential internet services seem to be holding up better than I expected – I’m happy to be wrong about my predictions in that regard. However, not all of you are comfortable or as productive as you would like to be. In case you haven’t heard this from someone else already, let me be the 38th person to reiterate: “It’s OK to be less productive than you were in the office.” However, let me tack on my own special slant: Take advantage of your new home office and specifically, one of its core technologies to regain some joy during these stressful times.
The overlooked benefits of videoconferencing
Though I find no small amount of professional satisfaction in solving your technology issues on a daily basis, a recent experience reminded me just how important and powerful something like videoconferencing can be to everyone, not just business professionals. One my older clients was struggling with getting a popular videoconferencing platform running on his PC. Once we had discovered where his webcam was (it had fallen down behind the desk but, fortunately, was still attached) and got it re-situated properly at his desk, I was delighted to discover why he was so desperate to get it working – he was scheduled to attend a Sunday dinner with his family. When he logged into the meeting, he was greeted with cheers and celebration from literally dozens of family members, arrayed on his screen like the opening credits of the Brady Bunch. He was so overwhelmed he completely forgot about me on the phone, and if there is ever a time when I am glad to be forgotten, it would be for moments like these.
The following day, while meeting with some fellow consultants and business owners for our monthly networking meeting (via videoconference, of course!), one of our members who works with clients primarily via videoconferencing shared how she has also been using that same platform to socialize with family and friends by playing a trivia game together, like you might at a bar. This was both ridiculously obvious and revelatory, and it occurred to all of us that our clients might be missing this overlooked usage of videoconferencing.
Obviously, if you aren’t the bill-payer for your work videconferencing account, please make sure it’s OK to use it for non-work related activities. If the account is shared, this may affect your co-workers ability to conduct business, or you might have an unexpected guest show up in your recreational meeting. Most services like Zoom, Join.Me and GotoMeeting offer free accounts if you need or want to keep it separate, but there are limitations in the free offerings, usually in meeting duration and number of people that can attend. That being said, the costs for a paid account are relatively modest, and once you get a taste for what’s possible, you may ask why you hadn’t done it sooner.
Thing you might consider trying over videoconferencing:
- Sunday Dinner – this one is surprisingly popular and actually pretty common, even before the pandemic. Set up a laptop at one end of the table, hopefully positioned so everyone can see and be seen. Turn up the volume and pass the mashed potatoes!
- Virtual Coffee/Lunch/Drinks – get together with your co-workers or clients, but here’s the catch: talk about anything except work!
- Virtual Exercise – my wife just did yoga with her friends over the weekend, and we also took a walk around our neighborhood while videoconferencing with a friend in San Diego.
- Take Music/Dance /Art Lessons – there are a ton of folks out there who make their living exclusively by teaching other via the internet. Why not spend a few hours each week learning something new!
- Go through your photos together – I know you’re thinking, “Ugh, virtual vacation slideshow? No thanks!” but how about spending some time sifting through family photos with distant relatives and sharing stories and memories that the photos evoke.
- Play a videogame together – if you haven’t played a game with or against someone via the internet, you are missing out on something really fun. It doesn’t have to be Fortnite or Call of Duty or something requiring the reflexes of a teenager – why not virtual Mahjong or Bridge or a 6-hour marathon of Dungeons & Dragons!
Keep in mind some of your less, tech-savvy family members or friends may be challenged the first time around, but it will be worth the effort in the end. Don’t let physical isolation and some solvable technology issues keep you from connecting with most important people in your life.
Image by thedarknut from Pixabay