Your Battle Plan to Slay Remote Work Monsters

As Halloween arrives, some of us are excited for things to get spooky. But most of us are not looking for any extra scares at work. 

Some of these fears take on an extra edge in remote work in particular, but fear not! We’ve got tips to help you survive these remote work monsters this fall and all year round. Voodle channeled our best Van Helsing energy below and we want to hear your thoughts!

green zombie arm jumping out of laptop keyboard with "Zoom Zombies" written in orange text

Remote Work Monster #1: Zoom Zombie

We don’t want anyone to tremble in fear when they hear the words, “Let’s schedule a zoom meeting.” But it’s hard not to become a bit zombified if all your interpersonal interactions at work are crammed into video calls.

What’s So Scary?

Your Worst Nightmare: All Meetings, All The Time

The knee jerk reaction from some organizations making the shift to remote work, or distributed teams, was to do everything the same as before… just online. Many elements of our previous workdays don’t translate. Our meeting schedules are a prime example. Overscheduling can undercut the advantages of remote work. This hurts employee productivity, autonomy, and engagement. Aka, it creates some nasty remote work monsters.

Zoom Insomnia

Anyone else dreaming of – or, let’s be honest, losing sleep over – going to video calls? The COVID crisis didn’t invent Zoom fatigue, but it sure exacerbated it. Sitting in on video meetings all day is a strange, partial imitation of the human connection we used to know. As put in Forbes, “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting.”

What To Do?!

Study This Monster’s Weaknesses

You wouldn’t go rushing into battle without researching your enemy first. (At least we hope not.) I you know the Zoom Zombies are at your (home office) door, take the time to answer these questions before accidentally feeding the monsters another video meeting:

  • Is another meeting necessary? Or is there another meeting already on the calendar to which you could add the topic to the agenda?
  • Will it work itself out?
  • Will an email or chat suffice?
  • Does it need to be a meeting with ALLL those people or could a quick and direct 1:1 suffice?

It’s Not Witches Brew, It’s Async Communication!

An easy way to ease your video chat meeting schedule is to incorporate meaningful breaks between video calls. An even better way is to embrace asynchronous communication. Async comms allow your team to relay and respond to relevant information on their schedule. No Zoom fatigue here!

green swamp monster is swimming through papers. Text reads Swamp(ed) Thing

Remote Work Monster #2: Swamped Monster

Nobody wants to be slowed down at work. Getting swamped with written communication drags massively on our productivity and mental health. Messages are lost in translation and meetings sometimes seem endless at work. These remote work monsters sneak up on you any time, any place.

What’s So Scary?

Emails… The Quicksand of Communication

Before, emails already caused quite a bit of headache at work. During COVID, Microsoft teams initially reported a 72% increase in the number of messages sent by staff per day. Similar trends appeared across industries and other communications platforms. Inefficient communication wastes time and strains relationships between co-workers.

The Expanding Swamp Bogs Down Productivity

There’s a HUGE difference between strategically planning for remote work, and “working from home.” As said in There’s a HUGE difference between strategically planning for remote work, and “working from home.” As said in this pre-COVID19 article, “‘working from home’ is a temporary situation, while remote working is an entirely different approach to getting things done.” Most of us did not plan to spend the year adjusting almost everything in our lives to prevent the spread of a pandemic. We desperately need effective communication and collaboration tools to adapt.

What To Do?!

Paging Dr. Frankenstein

For years, video conferencing inched its way into the workplace. Now, it’s a staple of workplace productivity, but with consequences (see our Zoom Zombie blog post).  Often, the “meat” of an update or work-related question can get relayed in 60-seconds or less and it is the act of the social niceties and banter that pad a video call that take up so much time.

So, if this monster is threatening your village – go ahead and cut to the chase by using a short async video tool like ours. Turn old methods of sending information across teammates into a short video chat. You can watch at 2X speed and still absorb more clarity of tone, context and intent than any written comms.

white cartoon ghosts float around looking sad with black text that reads "GHOSTS OF LOST INSIGHTS"

Remote Work Monster #3: The Ghost of Lost Insights

Don’t let insights you missed or miscategorized in your current systems haunt your team! The Ghosts of Lost Insights may appear as account or project details you can’t find, internal messages you can’t quite recall, or missed opportunities that keep you up at night.

What’s So Scary?

Missing Records Come Back to Haunt as Missed Opportunities

Don’t let the insights you missed or miscategorized haunt you. Your team needs the right tools to capture insights when the information is as fresh as possible. A clear, searchable database makes a world of difference, especially when facing a remote work monster. Many people struggle to coordinate information within their existing knowledge base and systems. This hurts results for accounts, projects, or other important work tasks. In turn, this can lead to and exacerbate…

Ghoulishly Inefficient Workflows

Recently, Forbes reported that sales reps spend nearly 65% of their time on non-sales-specific tasks. This includes a combination of updating colleagues, performing administrative tasks, and other non-revenue-generating activities. Extra admin work and stress about lost insights are specters no one wants. Modern workers must take every opportunity to simplify workflow and keep up with the competition. Every moment wasted searching for important information eats up time you could spend actually working on the project at hand.

What To Do?!

Protect Your Insights from Sneaky Specters

Stopping to type something up isn’t always convenient. With a short async video platform, you can recap any insights in a short video. Easily capture info from a client conversation, project update, internal meeting, and more with the click of a button. PLUS you get an automatically-generated transcript to refer to later.

When choosing an async communication tool, features like a smart searchable database and the ability to organize/find by hashtag or keywords will help you keep the cobwebs out and keep the insights rolling in. Get the right tools to rid your records of these remote work monsters today.

purple vampire over black background with red text that reads "CULTURE VAMPIRE"

Remote Work Monster #4: Culture Vampire

With fewer shared physical spaces, everyone’s nervous about Culture Vampires. These monsters suck the blood out of remote company culture. We miss the “water cooler moments,” the in-person happy hours, and the casual brainstorming opportunities we had with office life. Thankfully, short async video can restore some interpersonal contact. It can even reinvent the way you interact in work settings

What’s So Scary?

Lack of Preparation for Remote Work Monsters Drains Company Culture

Even for organizations that had a strong company culture pre-COVID, many of the rituals and relationships hang in the balance now. Years of establishing effective norms for an in-person experience through trial and error may fade from relevance. We must accept the learning curve of an abrupt shift to remote work, and recognize the challenges facing us now. Face the remote work monsters in your life.

What To Do?!

Gear Up to Defend Company Culture (…but make sure your stakes and garlic are metaphorical)

Fear won’t help us adapt. No matter how scary Culture Vampires may seem, this is a chance for innovation and modernization in the face of remote work monsters. As we recommended in our earlier blog post, 3 Steps to Maintain Culture in a Remote Work World, you can choose this time to:

  1. Revisit Core Values
  2. Create New Rituals
  3. Re-Think Workplace Culture Building Activities

Not every element of your old company culture translates over to remote work perfectly. Yet, you do have tools at your disposal to enable this transition. With short async video, you can post messages as the new standup from leadership, recap of projects, shout out for excellent work, and more. Async video chat captures the emotion and experience of human interaction more effectively than text. Put an actual face and voice to your teammates using video

a cartoon mummy sits at a computer looking confused with a light blue background and black text that reads "MISCOMMUNICATION MUMMY"

Remote Work Monster #5: Miscommunication Mummy

Confusion over written messages can happen at any time. Miscommunication Mummies are especially ready to strike in remote work. Are you wrapped up in uncertainty over what that last Slack message from your teammate suggested? And what did your boss really mean in that last email? This remote work monster will tangle you up nice and tight if you aren’t careful.

What’s So Scary?

Scary Sounds in Your Head

A member of our leadership ran an exercise where she had three different people read the same message aloud, without hearing each other. More often than not, the intonation was completely different. Studies show that the vocal component makes up “38% of our communication.” With so many of us working remotely, our exposure to the human voice element of communication has dropped dramatically. That’s a huge loss for team alignment.

Besides audio elements of communication, wrapping up non-verbal cues is a recipe for miscommunication mummies. Let’s let psychologist David F. Swink break it down for us:

“Without these important non-verbal cues, our imaginations fill in the blanks of what the person sending the message sender intended, and how they felt about the communication. We rarely fill in the blanks with positive intentions. This can lead to misunderstandings, damaged relationships, and poor business decisions.”

In conclusion, not good. If something is ambiguous, it is almost always interpreted as negative.

What To Do?!

Unravel Those Mummies! (AKA Get Your Visual Comms Back!)

Many teams are moving from a centralized workplace as COVID-19 persists. Even if people intend to return to the office at some point, utilizing video communication allows for more face-to-face connection. That said, nobody wants to be a Zoom Zombie. As a result, modern workplaces must integrate asynchronous communication. Short async video chat provides the perfect short video format to do that.

Async video chat meets your team where, and when, they are without derailing their workflow. Miscommunication Mummies can sneak up on us year-round, not just near Halloween. Focus on company culture, as we talked about in our Culture Vampire post, to foster empathy among teammates. A little patience and choosing to assume positive intent can go a long way.

Take on the Remote Work Monster Mash with Async Video Chat

You’re not alone in getting the creeps about these remote work monsters. This also means that you’re also not alone in looking for solutions! In a world desperate for effective communication that doesn’t drain our energy, we’ve got to go with short async video chat as our solution of choice. Give it a shot and try to dance with your monsters a bit this fall.

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