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7 better ways to meet remotely without Zoom video conferencing

In a hybrid and remote working world, video-conferencing sometimes seems like the glue that holds teams together.

And while we know that video conference drains your energy and leads to “Zoom fatigue“, teams tend to revert to video calls as the default communication method. But there are other ways. Here are seven of them.

7 effective ways of meeting remotely without the Zoom-drain.

  1. Dial-in with audio-only
  2. Walk and talk
  3. Group coffee call 
  4. Video your pages 
  5. Whiteboard stream
  6. Collaborate in your online docs
  7. Replace video chats with group chats

1. Dial-in with audio-only (aka a phone call)

Part of the energy sap that comes with day-long video conferencing is the time spent staring at a screen. The human eye was not designed to spend that much time concentrating on your pixelated co-workers. You can feel this intuitively; at the end of the day, you have a screen headache (Computer Vision Syndrome).

Outside of the work you already do whilst attached to your screen, zoom meetings add extended periods of time where you’re forced to strain your eyes on your screen. An easy alternative is to replace the screen with audio-only dial-ins, or use a Slack huddle.

You can even use Zoom as a platform to do so, and encourage meeting guests to dial in on their phones. When doing so, it’s important to remind everyone to step away from their screens as they dial-in. This creates a forced break in screen time usage during your meeting. To help their eyes readjust and recover.

Plus, did you know research shows we are actually MORE empathetic when listening to audio-only communication? Because we start to really hear the nuances and subtleties in tone.

2. Walk and talk – switch the screen for the footpath.

(My personal favorite)

Did you know Steve Jobs preferred to hold most of his brainstorming meetings whilst walking? If you have meetings that are creative in nature, consider switching webcams for footpaths.

Walking can boost creativity by up to 60%, according to research by Stanford University. Plus walking gets your team outside, to lap up some vitamin D. And helps you encourage healthy team exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Set a time in the calendar
  2. Decide on the length of the meeting and length of the walk
    • Fun tip: Try to share your walking paths/challenge each other to see how far you walk, or start a fitness group using an app like Strava
  3. Dial into a Zoom meeting link or conference call
  4. Put your headphones and start strolling

Tips:

  • Set an agenda or share any resources ahead of time if needed. This way, your walking meeting can focus on conversation, not documentation.
  • Record the audio – this way those brilliant, on-the-fly ideas won’t get lost in the wind.

Walk the walk and let your team talk the talk.

3. Group coffee call – dial in with audio as you enjoy your fresh arabica

Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in close proximity to co-workers, it’s likely you’re missing the morning coffee runs. And the conversation catch ups that go hand in hand. It’s too easy when hosting frequent zoom meetings for the workplace to lose its social aspect.

It is possible to host coffee catch-ups and morning tea via Zoom, but we would recommend trying a group coffee outing. Switch your morning meeting for a group coffee run to replicate that normal coffee runs that happen in the office.

How to do it:

  1. Agree on a time in advance to avoid early risers missing out
  2. Set-up a meeting invite and instruct the team to start the meeting at their own local coffee shop
    • This is to allow for variances in travel time to the nearest cafe
  3. Have your team dial in and catch up as everyone enjoys their coffee on the way back home

 

FREE DOWNLOAD: Managing hybrid and remote teams toolkit.

4. Video your pages – change the webcam from facing you to facing the table

From the research, one element that came across as critical for reducing the video conference fatigue is reducing overall screen time. We’re already chained to our screens throughout the day. Zoom calls just add to this.

But sometimes you still need to be able to share what you are working on.

It’s commonplace for this to be done with screen share, however, this still requires everyone to be staring at their screen to work. An alternative meeting style is for the team to position their webcams to look at their workbooks/paper. And then collaborate via these mediums.

This still requires periodic screen referencing, however, helps reduce screen-time burden. Especially useful for creative work.

Replace the screen with an A4 page, and collaborate there.

How to do it:

  1. Open up your regular Zoom video conferencing meeting
  2. Angle all the camera’s away from participants an onto their pages
  3. Work through your meeting/brainstorming session, writing and recording everything down manually on paper.
    • Occasionally peeking at the screen to see what others are doing will probably happen, but overall you should spend less time looking at the screen.

5. Whiteboard stream

This depends on access. If you have access to whiteboards and other writing surfaces, you can replace the screen share with video footage of whiteboard interaction and have your team dial into the video call with audio to participate.

Like a whiteboard meeting conducted remotely.

How to do it:

  1. Nominate a dedicated scribe who has to a whiteboard, and a meeting leader
  2. Have the scribe position their video directly on the whiteboard
  3. Allow the meeting leader to run through your agenda, with the team pitching in and the scribe writing down anything said on the board

6. Collaborating without a meeting – meeting in your online documents

Collaboration needs to happen but is harder than before with everyone physically distanced. And sometimes, you’d rather not jump straight into a zoom call to discuss documents as you begin putting them together.

One workaround is to host a docu-meeting; a meeting where you collaborate on a task in an online document in real-time.

As meeting participants add to the document, others add comments, questions and feedback in the document. Which is responded to in real-time. This fosters co-creation without the need for a video feed.

How to do it:

  1. Use an online document that can be accessed by multiple users at once
    • Example: Google docs, sheets
  2. Match the document type to the project type
    • We use Miro/Figma for design projects
    • Google/docs for writing
  3. Have the team collaborate in the document, adding in their thoughts and ideas in real-time
  4. Add comments, feedback and questions into the document
    • This will replace the conversation that usually happens via video conferencing

7. Replace video chats with group chats

The last meeting replacement might be the simplest: skip the Zoom calls altogether and use instant messaging to collaborate and make decisions. Not without its flaws, but using a chat solution like Slack or Microsoft Teams to replace zoom video conferencing meetings can reduce video conferencing fatigue and help work get done faster.

Concluding: 7 ways wrapped up

  • Teleconference – audio-only
  • Walk and talk
  • Group coffee call
  • Video your pages
  • Whiteboard stream
  • Swapping meetings for online documents
  • Informal group chats

These are just a few suggestions for breaking free from the shackles of endless Zoom video conferencing. I’m sure there are many other creative ways of meeting remotely. We’d love to hear yours and if you’re looking for ways to support your remote team’s wellbeing, check out our other free resources


intelliHR is a people management platform helping HR, leaders and managers enhance performance, culture, engagement and retention. With built-in HRIS and powerful real-time analytics, see how the platform works today.

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