Connecting During Corona

Many of us are working from virtual spaces. Whether that be from the comfort of our couch, or with limited office hours, we’re suddenly thrust into the worlds of digital spaces.

Zoom, Skype, GoTo, and other online portals are now a must for numerous companies; yet, with distractions now at our fingertips even more, how do we stay present in meetings over a webcam?

If working from home, move yourself out of your living space into a more productive place. If you live in a 400 square foot studio apartment (like yours truly), this can be particularly difficult. However, refrain from working from your bed. The temptation is great, especially when it’s 10 feet away, but consciously move to another space. You’re better equipped to concentrate when sleeping, reading, or snuggling with your pup/partner isn’t a real consideration. 

Next, shower and get dressed. Yup, I know it seems crazy. “Arielle! I’m working from home, can’t I do this in my PJS?!” You can, but you’re less likely to feel productive. Even if it means putting on real pants, do it. Your morning routine should mimic what you do if heading into an office. (Plus, you’re likely going to be on camera during a virtual meeting, so you want to look presentable). This help get you into the mode of working, rather than relaxing. 

If you’re using a webcam, it can be tempting to check yourself out. Particularly with programs with Skype, you can likely see yourself as you talk to the person or team involved in your meeting. Make a deal with yourself. You’re going to look at yourself exactly once. You will fix any stray hairs, adjust your shirt, or check out that new bronzer one time. Then, you must become more interested in the others involved. Additionally, keep other distractions at bay. Refrain from opening up another tab on your internet browser. If using a tablet or computer, turn your phone over, so you can’t see the screen. People can tell when you’re not focused on them, and you will get major bonus points if you can be a present participant. 

Before hopping on a web meeting or phone call, make sure to ground your breath. To do this, come to the edge of your chair. Place both feet firmly on the floor. Imagine there is a string coming through the spine and your head is balancing on top. Breathe in through the nose and mouth; and feel a flow of breath. Before you speak, take a breath. Don’t be afraid of silence or interruption. If no one is speaking, do not feel like you need to be the one to pick up the conversation. Speak when you have a valuable piece of information. Take notes if you need to, but you are more likely to retain details if you are actively listening. If you do not hear what someone says, wait until there is a pause in the conversation and ask him/her/they to repeat. 

We do not know what to expect in the coming weeks. We may work virtually for days, weeks, or months. It is important to give yourself every opportunity for an effective and energizing environment. Connection with yourself and others will not only help you to stay productive, but encourage your colleagues to connect, as well. Breathe, listen, and stay present.