Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Small talk, virtual meeting fatigue and post-pandemic life

Anne says: This week my articles weave a complex pattern between loss of communication between colleagues at work, the fatigue caused by constant utilisation of video meetings, and the stress of remote working under pandemic conditions.

Now, please don’t get stressed by that, I’m not trying to overload you! I’d recommend you start with the recent TED interview with Esther Perel, a psychotherapist who discusses the impact of pandemic stress and loss, both at work and at home. She talks about prolonged feelings of ambiguous loss – where office buildings still exist, but we don’t know when we’ll be back in them, “We’re not working from home, we’re working with home.” I think this comment is particularly important to remember when you read the other two articles. There are no more boundaries around roles – between the work roles, the home roles. Everything now occurs in the same place. Her advice guides a way to create boundaries, while acknowledging and embracing the complexity and characters that randomly appear while we work with home (not from home)!

Next up, the Harvard Business Review article laments the loss of office small talk. There’s a lot of discussion regarding this, so the authors conducted a small research project to investigate the positive and negative impact of small talk. Overall the positives outweigh the negatives. But – there’s a caveat – it needs to be managed. While the discussion about the importance and nature of small talk is critical to understanding the impact, the article moves into recommendations that, in the context of Esther Perel’s comments, the findings from the HBR research made me cringe a little. Why? They felt contrived and trying too hard to replicate aspects of communication that are just not going to be straightforward to replace. As soon as you schedule time for informal, small talk conversations, in a particular format, you’ve distorted the nature of small talk. Chance meetings, informal life chats, get-togethers over a coffee – they don’t easily translate in the way suggested in the article.

Finally, move on to the MIT article. Essentially how to be more effective with virtual meetings to avoid fatigue (Zoom fatigue). The approach is somewhat different to others on the same topic. They’re recommending you do research within your own teams – uncover how people are working best, formats that work, what keeps people engaged, etc. And then, armed with those findings, then take steps to re-align the use of video meetings, including cancelling unnecessary meetings, making meetings shorter, and turning off self-view!

To summarise – pay attention to ambiguous loss, understand the positive impact of small talk, re-evaluate how you’re conducting meetings and turn off the self-view! Try it next week and let us know if you have any other strategies or comments that others might find valuable.

Watch and read:

How the pandemic’s lack of connection affected our ability to think positively

Jakkii says: A short one from me this week, with a brief look at how the pandemic has affected our ability to think positively and why we crave socialisation. I’m sure it’s not news to any of you that we are hardwired to crave time with other people – humans are social animals. And it might seem obvious, then, that the huge reduction in socialisation because of the pandemic is affecting us. For me, this is one of those times where the results of a study is more a validation of an assumption than it is a revelation of new knowledge.

What I thought was worth sharing from this piece, though, was the tactics for helping us connect as the pandemic continues. Even here in Australia where things often feel like they are a sort of normal, snap lockdowns seem to keep popping up and forcing us back into isolation. And, of course, if you’re based somewhere in the northern hemisphere, well, things might just still be a long way from the old normal, which means drastically reduced time with others, and, according to this piece and the study it refers to, you may also have a reduced ability to think positively.

The tactics are:

  • Reach out through voice

  • Lean into strong friendships

  • Grow and learn with confidantes

Perhaps not revolutionary, but good and achievable tips all the same. The article concludes with this:

Study after study shows getting together with friends and colleagues is good for your health. While this may seem terribly straightforward, in reality, there’s some terrific new science that can drive not just whether you connect, but how you connect and the types of activities and events that can bring you the most happiness and fulfillment.

Give it a read, and then put it into practice: reach out through voice, lean into strong friendships, and grow and learn with confidantes. Let’s bring some connection back and help ourselves restore our ability to think positively to its full capacity.

Read: https://www.fastcompany.com/90623000/how-the-pandemics-lack-of-connection-affected-our-ability-to-think-positively

Friday Fives

Hybrid workplace

Remote work and the digital workplace

Communication, collaboration, engagement, and culture

Community management, moderation and misinformation

Privacy and data

Big Tech

Social media

Extras

This is interesting: Tinder data shows how pandemic dating was even weirder than regular dating

Things that make you go hmmm: Google has a secret blocklist that hides YouTube hate videos from advertisers—but it’s full of holes

Space: Could NASA’s upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Telescope find 100,000 planets?

Podcast: Tech Tent: Who blinked – Facebook or Australia?

Friday playlist: hyperpop


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