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  • Writer's pictureJuliet Fallowfield

How we’re hacking remote work versus office: why a 3.5-hour Zoom call is a brilliant idea

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

As a team, we all independently came to the same conclusion recently. We work faster in person yet love the freedom of working remotely.

We agreed we needed to create a blend of in-person creative debates versus remote, focused and deep concentrated work. However, I couldn’t work out how to avoid compromising on either of these. Given that only 3 in 10 UK companies require their teams to be fully on-site in 2023, down from 6 in 10 before the pandemic, this is a challenge that I know so many other founders are grappling with too.

We don’t use Slack or any other instant messaging platforms as I feel we are all interrupted enough already in our daily lives. I wanted to find a solution that meant we could have more of an in-office culture while retaining our autonomy to work from anywhere in the world. Crucially, it was important for me that we maintain this autonomy without losing productivity and connection with our colleagues.

Coupling this with ideas on simultaneously time-blocking client work in the week, I thought, why don’t we use video conferencing technology to create an actual remote office? A Zoom call has become known as something you must be engaged with at all times, people default to it for meetings. We look at Zooms in our calendars and think we’re fully on: either presenting or debating. They are not inactive time entries. I’ve even lost my voice at times I’ve done so many!

In a bid to talk less and send fewer emails internally with our working team, and knowing a quick question is more easily answered in person than by text or email, we time blocked, dialled in, set out the call by setting 3 main objectives for our 3.5-hour Zoom and then got cracking. We put ourselves on mute once we decided on the key actions and then took ourselves off when we had a quick question to ask someone. These are conversations and questions you ask instantly when sitting next to someone in an office but takes that bit longer to write an email.

It was brilliant. More than I could have hoped for and we unanimously agreed we enjoyed it.

What 3.5-hour Zoom calls have taught us:

  • We sped through lots of little tasks far faster and more effectively as a group, plus we’re all in the loop

  • We moved big projects forward faster, together

  • We were more creative, sharing ideas ad hoc as they came up rather than set against an agenda

  • We left with a clear road map of any outstanding actions, however, most were completed on the call

  • Most importantly, we felt satisfied we’d Done A Good Job rather than getting buried in the hamster wheel of email, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Slack and Trello

  • Our email footprint is reduced

We also learnt more about our remote office environments and got to know each other that bit better. One of us types really loudly while another drinks a lot of tea. Disco the dog likes to help himself to biscuits. Desk-sharers in co-working spaces don’t always keep their voices down.

Knowing that fully in-person, fully remote and hybrid aren’t perfect solutions to the new way of working, our 3.5-hour Zoom call felt like a really positive step towards a compromised solution.

Who knows what technology is around the corner to aid company cultures even further but for now, this works for us as far as job satisfaction is concerned.

We’d love to hear from other hybrid companies on how they’re managing this too!

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