Have video calls made us less efficient and spontaneous?

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Times are strange right now and we can often find ourselves in ‘needs must’ situations when it comes to leadership challenges and the running our businesses. However, beware, habits and unwritten rules are being formed unconsciously and some of them aren’t constructive.

I recently commented on a LinkedIn post that “not all conversations have to be scheduled Zoom meetings” and asked the question “what has happened to spontaneous phone calls?”

I was surprised by how much this resonated with people and how many are suffering from video call fatigue. I‘m sure you’ve been part of the ‘lockdown video call’ movement in one form or another. While there is nothing wrong with video calls (quite the opposite), I believe our growing obsession with ‘scheduling time’ to see each other on video calls, is beginning to slow down decision making as well as the spontaneous and personalised interaction between colleagues... and most frighteningly, between us and our customers.

Video calls were once the reserve of executives in different parts of the world who rarely got the chance to connect face to face and played a crucial role in helping these teams to bond. Times have moved on and they’re far more accessible today, but that doesn’t excuse scheduling them days in advance when a quick conversation could draw out a conclusion now.

Most of the time, a video conf call should be considered a replacement for a face to face engagement. Those situations when it’s important to sit down with someone, see the whites of there eyes and debate or conclude things that require more presence. But lockdown has limited the ability of local colleagues to meet physically and we’ve turned to video calls as a surrogate. However, in more normal times even when you work in the same building or complex as others, you wouldn’t wait 24 or 48 hours or more until you could sit them down, to ask them a quick question, pass on some information or make an easy decision.

Immediacy of contact demonstrates that you see things as urgent as well as important. Why should a simple conversation wait for a scheduled video call when it could be resolved quickly and in a way that says you treat the other person and the situation with care and respect.

So, in the interest of maintaining pace in our businesses and until we get back to normal, we need to find a balance between virtual face to face time and the immediacy and personal touch that a quick phone call can give you.

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