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The Pro Strategy for Mastering WFH Zoom Calls

The Pro Strategy for Mastering WFH Zoom Calls

Working. From. Home. The three little words that most workers value most and is always at the top of the list of perks employees want.  

Now that most of the world is working remotely, with the exception of the incredibly brave first responders and frontline workers, the occasional video conference call or chat has given way to a whole new way of working.

As a leading brand strategy agency, we know a thing or two about navigating the interconnected awesomeness of Zoom. Below are a few of our top tips:

  1. Be a Good Zoom-er and Mute. Let’s face it…kids and animals are cute in 2D. But in real life, they are noisy as hell! If you’re fortunate to have a bit of outside space to work, neighborhood noise is equally grueling to listen to while trying to hear your video chat mates. Here’s the secret code to Mute and Unmute yourself with one key:
    1. On Mac: Use Cmd + Shift + A to toggle mute on and off
    1. On Windows: Use Alt + A to toggle mute on and off
    1. If you want to set your spacebar to be “Push to Talk” follow these instructions from Zoom
  2. Touch Up My Appearance Please! If a soft-light filter could accompany all of my in-person interactions like they can on Zoom I would surely have landed a Cover Girl contract by now. Well, maybe not. But at least I know for my next client call how not to look like I’ve been working 14-hours days while trying to teach my six-year-old how to type (side note: teaching a child how to type should be included in one of the nine circles of Hell). Here’s the pro tip:
    • Open Zoom
    • Go to Preferences
    • Video
    • Touch Up My Appearance
  3. That’s the Way We All Became the Brady Bunch. Have you ever given yourself whiplash from bouncing between speakers while on a Zoom call? And by “speakers” I really mean any cough, child, siren, Alexa, or animal that can also cause the screen to shift. This is awful and certainly not a great way to WFH while contributing to a group discussion on partnership marketing or brand strategy. To turn your Zoom-ers into the Brady Bunch (I want to be Carol so I can rock her shag flip), follow these instructions:
    • Simply click the “Gallery View” button in the top right to see up to 49 participants on video together
  4. This is all great, but I miss working on 2 screens! Most of our PR agency works on two screens while in office. Now that we’re all home and working on whatever piece of household real estate we can wrestle away from our partners, children, and roommates, a second screen would most surely help with productivity. If you want a second screen, but all you have is a spare tablet…here’s your fix!

Working from home has its inherent benefits like reduced commute time, the ability to look awesome on top while still wearing sweatpants, and having your loved ones nearby 24/7 (although that perk is wearing thin). Video conferencing has enabled remote working to keep a semblance of the connected experience in-person meetings used to provide. With these tips in mind, it will also hopefully be a more pleasurable and productive experience for which to collaborate.

But what is it about video conferencing that is so hard to truly get on board with?

Stanford psychologist Jeremy Bailenson has spent two decades studying virtual communication between humans, and he’s documented the ways existing technology fails us. In short, the technology is just awkward.

In a recent NPR article on the subject, Baileson explains. “People have very dedicated personal norms about the proper space one should leave between themselves and others,” he says. But when you’re on a video call, your personal space is defined by how close the camera is to your face. In real life, this view of someone would be crazy. If you were regularly this close to a colleague’s face in a physical office, you’d probably have serious problems with the HR department. “We very rarely get that close to someone unless we’re in a fight or an intimate situation,” he says.

At the end of the day, it’s really hard to replicate via videoconferencing the social bonding, personal mentorship, and the millions of nonverbal micro-expressions that we use to communicate. We are social animals after all, despite what the beloved introverts in your life try to tell you.

Zooming is cool and with some tips and tweaks, and the technology beats chatting to faceless voices all day. Although I must admit, when I see a calendar invite pop-up and it’s a voice chat-only, I do quietly celebrate in my mind by the brief pause in 21st Century telecommuting. But just as soon as I celebrate, I’m back to Brady Bunch-ing my video call to ensure I get a close-up view of my team’s faces that I miss seeing in person each day.

Wishing good health and good Zoom lighting to all,

–AB

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