Written by Roxanne Brown
Have meetings become friendlier? When a colleague’s child bursts on your screen to show you their toy, does that make people laugh? When a cat jumps up on the back of a colleague’s chair, does that bring smiles? Working from home is a lot of things. “Weird” certainly describes it. Sometimes, it can be unexpectedly joyous too.
Of course, work is a serious thing that needs focus. collaboration and determination. Work also needs spontaneous, joyful moments. That momentary relief does a lot for mood, bonding and energy.
Work-life balance seems like a passé phrase today. It’s more like work-life integration. That’s what we’re doing when we work from home all of the time. People used to have to hide those less-professional “life” parts of their lives before we quarantined. Now, not only do we seem to have the patience for it, many of us are enjoying getting to know work colleagues in these new ways.
With this in mind, I share this set of Virtual Meeting Joy Principles for you to consider for your virtual place of work.
I’ve been meeting with my nonprofit Board colleagues this way for years, virtually, on camera. That’s because they live across the world – Singapore, Germany, British Columbia, DC, Chicago, Quebec, Ivory Coast, Wales. We meet at unusual times, early, like 6am, late, like 8pm. And, when you do this more of your life is shared by accident. In my experience, bonding experiences like this on a nonprofit Board are welcomed, especially if what brought you there is a passion for the cause.
These principles in action happened just yesterday. The Vice President and I were meeting with the newly elected Board members as part of our onboarding process. It’s five of us meeting for the second time since they joined so we’re still getting to know each other. One of the new members had a question and while she’s talking suddenly a cat tail appeared just below her chin. I noticed this and said, “Oh! Kitty!” We all spontaneously laughed together and the new member smiled broadly then continued with her question. Right there, in that moment, everyone knew what the culture of the Board meetings would be like. Focused, lighthearted, respectful and engaging.
Since working from home started to become the norm for most, business meetings have felt much more like these nonprofit meetings. We still focus, collaborate and get stuff done yet it’s okay if one of us needs to get up to answer the door or tend to a dog or pour another cup of coffee to keep going.
Work-life integration is a good way to think about collaboration today. How can the “life” part of “work-life” bring a new richness to work? How can it help colleagues connect to each other and the work they do together? How can it help people feel less isolated and like they belong? It’s a unique and wonderful opportunity most haven’t had until now.