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Endless work check-in pain

Brenda Fernandez tried to block the time on the calendar. She tried to keep the conversation focused. She still can’t escape from them.

“Everything will be a meeting,” a 29-year-old Miami copywriter told me. What is her overwhelming feeling? “This may have been an email.”

Then she allowed her to jump on the phone at 7 pm.

We are deeply involved in the endless era of check-in. According to researchers, the meeting was shortened during the pandemic. Discovery of one treatise The average length in the spring of 2020 has decreased by 20%.

But Meetings are increasing.. There is a 25 minute client touch base, a catch-up of general life with a manager, and a bite size Performance feedback session, A meeting to prepare for a meeting.

“It never ends,” Fernandez said.

We were already on the road to Meet Burnout Syndrome Before the pandemic. The transition from a hierarchical organization to a non-hierarchical matrixed organization means more bosses and teams will coordinate. Increasingly global business means inviting us to the time we normally sleep. Caroline Kim O, a leadership coach based near New York City, says that in recent years many of her clients have begun to feel that the meeting is happening to them.

“You can’t control your working days,” she says. “They are just popping up.”

Work at home And living through the crisis seems to have exacerbated it. In an April survey by meeting scheduling tool Doodle, 69% of 1,000 full-time remote workers said they had more meetings since the pandemic began, and 56% said they had too many calendars to perform their jobs. Reports a decline.

Regular check-in is now a version of micromanagement by some bosses. This is a way to monitor untrusted workers. The adjustments made by rotating chairs and walking in the hall still require a special form and time for everyone scattered throughout the home office.In addition, there is that feeling Empathic leader Whether the world was closed last year or now back at headquarters, we need to stay in touch at the moment of transition.

The message to the manager is, “Hey, check in with your employees. Check if they’re okay. Be more careful,” says executive coach Kim Oh. Sometimes more care means saving workers from another zoom, she adds.

What will happen next? Professor Rafaela Sadun of Harvard Business School, who studied the load of meetings before and during the pandemic, said that if we all return to work five days a week, we could return to efficient face-to-face check-in. ..But the organization that is testing Hybrid setup You need to be prepared for confusion.

Currently, there are two types of interactions to manage, says Dr. Sadun. “One is in the water cooler and the other is in the zoom.” Even if she makes a decision with a colleague sitting on one desk, she dials up to her teammate who spends Tuesday at home. You need to make sure you are on board. Suddenly, all zooms don’t always seem to be that bad.

Nevertheless, many employees are optimistic when things get better. In a Doodle survey, 70% of respondents said they would like to reduce meetings when they return to the office. Angela Nguyen, an independent health care consultant in Boston, predicts that workers will return to the good old days of good old meetings, in contrast to the two- and three-time booking schedules they are currently looking at.

Indoor dining, training classes, concerts. These once-common events are returning to everyday life. But thanks to Covid-19, everyone now has a different level of comfort. What happens in the brain when you determine what is dangerous?Photo Illustration: Laura Kammerman

“It’s not sustainable,” she says. She has seen clients attempt divide and rule, jump on a 15-minute split screen, and send different team members to different video calls. Then sync with another meeting.

Were we all accustomed to clicking on expert contacts during all these months, without using travel time or personal planning as a natural boundary? Does loneliness play a role?

“Do people want to connect just to chat, because they don’t have an office to go to,” Nguyen said.

Rob Cross, a professor of global leadership at Babson College and author of the next book, Beyond Collaboration Overload, said that overall, employees spend 5-8 hours more per week during the pandemic. It states that it is. More meetings mean more tasks to catch up with at the end of the day. Finally, you have time to see your to-do list growing exponentially. Moreover, switching between more and shorter meetings puts a lot of strain on our brains.

“They created works they didn’t see,” says Dr. Cross about the organization. “that is Crush people.. “

Share your thoughts

What kind of telecommuting meetings can I end or continue when I return to the office? Join the conversation below.

Becca Apfelstadt’s team at marketing agency Treetree returned to its office in Columbus, Ohio last month two and a half days a week. The CEO’s verdict on the meeting is as follows: The meeting is not worse than before. Early in the pandemic, workers complained that they didn’t have time to grab water or use the toilet. “If we didn’t understand this, we wouldn’t survive,” she says.

The company moved some communications to messaging services such as Slack, shortened meetings to 20 or 50 minutes, and encouraged walk-and-talk conversations by taking notes using AI services.

According to Apfelstädt, this effort has helped, and so far the transition to hybrids hasn’t created conference creep. Still, there is a problem. Last week she found three employees crammed together on the couch trying to share a laptop camera for video conferencing.

“They had a little guy right in the middle and she was just crushed whenever someone tried to claim,” says Apfelstädt. She recommends keeping a formal meeting schedule light as the company leans back into accidental conversations around the office.

Still, not everyone is hungry for them. Seanna Thompson, Physician and Administrator of Mount Sinai Health Systems in New York, has been fond of her remote meetings for over a year now. Fear comes when she thinks of returning to a winding check-in with those ad hoc water coolers.

“I’m God, it’s like crazy my day,” she says. “I don’t think what I was doing before was that efficient.”

Write to Rachel Finezeig rachel.feintzeig@wsj.com

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Endless work check-in pain

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