The Hidden Costs of Remote Working

27th May 2021

Mike Van der Vijver, Managing Partner of MindMeeting, may have some solutions for those suffering from remote working, through screens only.

Remote working has become the standard way for many. For now, and probably for quite some time to come, there is no way around it. And in many respects, it works gloriously! 

In recent weeks, we at MindMeeting talked with several association executives about the impact of remote working and online meetings. As Meeting Designers, we were interested in a snapshot of how their meetings are functioning nowadays. In all honesty, we expected complaints about the difficulties of doing their normal work in an online environment; about issues with alignment; about low efficiency; about low-energy meetings where hardly anyone contributes. Well, they didn’t. Not at all! In fact, they found their meetings were shorter, better prepared, effective and efficient, with less chit-chat and fewer unnecessary interruptions. 

However, they did raise serious concerns, which originate in the most unexpected places. We saw frowns and heard trailing voices when they talked about the social environment which their team members found themselves catapulted in. Now that the office passes through the screen, people are actually longing for human – physical in fact – connections. 

Instead of finding colleagues in the office and getting energy from each other, workers feel zoom fatigue and a degree of “dehumanization”. 

Efficiency eats humanity, it seems. Grand words, maybe, but what it boils down to is simple: people miss the informal chats: just quickly checking out an idea or learning the ropes of something; hopping into a colleague’s office for a one-to-one; meet them at the coffee machine. They feel lonely and they miss having people around.

In particular young people are afraid of not making new, life-important contacts – such an essential part of their social lives. This applies especially to new hires, who joined organizations shortly before the pandemic broke out and who may have left behind a bunch of friends, in the hope of finding new ones in the place where they moved. But no concerts, weekend parties, bar life and festivals for them. And zero close encounters of the third kind with colleagues or people in other organizations they work with. 

Association executives we spoke to were sincerely worried about the long-term viability of the current model to run their organizations. The social deficit seems to be getting greater and greater – a deficit made up of lost opportunities to connect with others. 

If you recognize any or some of the above consequences of current social conditions, please send us a quick message. We may have a solution. A simple “Yeah, we have that, too,” is enough. We’d love to hear from you! 

Join Mike on #Roadmap2030 where you connect with him as well as your association peers. More information here.

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