In olden times—before the pandemic—when I typically conducted meetings outside the office at least twice a week, I used to wish I could run every meeting by computer, with everything I needed at my fingertips and no travel time required.
Two years after implementing web meetings (you know me, I always try to be ahead of the tech curve), I often feel exhausted after a long day of web meetings.
My work desk now looks like an airplane cockpit. Three lamps, a headset, a large microphone, and external camera, three monitors and an iPad that can pinch-hit as a fourth monitor. Organizing a presentation, making sure not to have 15 browser windows open, and keeping the appointments contained to the set time scheduled can be quite difficult, especially on high-activity days.
As states gradually say goodbye to distance restrictions, you might think that web meetings rose out a necessity that will soon pass. However, in April 2021 the CoStar Group published a report stating that remote work is here to stay as corporations downsize their physical space and manage office density issues.
The upside to remote work is that it has forced workers to be far more efficient than ever, says Jeff Goldstein, president of Queue Associates, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner that sells and services high-end accounting software. “If a consultant had to take a train into New York to visit clients, they could visit perhaps two clients a day. If they’re lucky they’d really only get four to six hours worth of work. Now sitting at home in front of their computers, they can easily schedule 10 one-hour sessions. Our people can be more efficient because they can serve more clients in a day. There’s no wasted time.”
Of course, some employers would find this thrilling while some employees might find this chilling.
Our firm will maintain and enhance the remote option for client appointments and remote work needs for employees as they arise. We also will regularly invite clients to our office, and perhaps build in one out-of-office appointment day. What I’ve learned that I miss when conducting remote meetings is direct eye contact. It’s often hard to see non-verbal communication—hands folded, indicating cautious, guarded listening; fatigue around the eyes, a sign of stress; darting eyes and leg shaking, a signal of stress and confusion—on Zoom. It is also difficult to have moments of silence as thought; those are sometimes misconstrued for technology issues.
Remote work is here to stay, and we will need to adjust to those demands as we’ve learned with the computer and the smartphone. To those who are disappointed in this news, be thankful that meetings featuring holographic 3D images are years away.