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Zoom has been a miracle worker for companies everywhere as the business world settles into remote work. Whether for one-on-ones, team meetings, or a company-wide all-hands, Zoom (or some other video conferencing tool) has been the go-to resource just about every single time.
By and large, though, the way teams and companies think about video conferencing is pretty limited. We tend to see it as a vehicle for a meeting itself, and just accept that the space where that meeting occurs is lost, or unimportant. By this thinking, it’s a way for remote workers to salvage the meeting after losing the conference room.
But what if the conference room is also something worth salvaging? Is it worth having a virtual space where colleagues can gather outside the 30-minute or 1-hour parameters of a scheduled meeting? And is Zoom a suitable tool for creating that kind of space?
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Remote work and the case for virtual conference rooms
If you ask us, the answer is an unequivocal “yes” to all of the questions above. The ability for coworkers to gather and have lighthearted interaction is crucial for staying productive and feeling good about coming to work. And we’re not the only ones who think so – as Business News Daily notes, “Employees who share communal lunches tend to have higher productivity and morale.” Some of our partner companies have shared their success stories creating static Zoom rooms for casual or semi-casual conversation.
“The ability for coworkers to gather and have lighthearted interaction is crucial for staying productive and feeling good about coming to work.”
There’s no reason you can’t use Zoom to create a static conference room that team members can join anytime they feel the need to connect with their coworkers outside of the day-to-day grind of work. And you can theme these rooms to facilitate different types of morale-boosting interactions. Here are some examples:
Try recreating the mid-day gatherings over food that your team enjoyed before the switch to remote work. You may be surprised to realize how much you and your team have missed it.
There are online apps that are perfect for gaming through Zoom. Give your team a way to indulge their competitive spirit beyond quota-related SPIFs.
Who doesn’t love a good water-cooler conversation about what’s happening on the TV show of the moment? It’s timeless. At Betts, we tried this with Tiger King – a 3-month old show that feels like it came out a decade ago.
Zoom conference rooms don’t have to be structured. Sometimes your team just needs a place to check in, see who’s around, and make a bit of small talk before getting back to the grind.
“There’s no reason you can’t use Zoom to create a static conference room that team members can join anytime they feel the need to connect with their coworkers outside of the day-to-day grind of work.”
How to make virtual conference rooms work
Creating static rooms through Zoom couldn’t be easier. There are a few different ways to go about it. The obvious one is to create one continuous meeting – we’re talking weeks or months long – invite the whole company to it, and include a Zoom link that people can use to check in at any time.
But this can end up crowding people’s calendars, especially if you want to create multiple rooms. And, at least in the beginning, you may want to test the waters a bit to see if these conference rooms work before creating anything long-term.
“Don’t limit your use of Zoom to strictly-business meetings with hard start and stop times – try it as a tool for facilitating unstructured culture-building, as well.”
With that in mind, it might make more sense to create a quick 30-minute meeting for each conference room – maybe book it on a weekend, so it doesn’t crowd people’s calendars. Once it’s created, you can send the Zoom link around to the company for each team member to bookmark, so they can access it as needed – even after the meeting is, according to the calendar, over. You can make it a recurring meeting so the link stays fresh. Or, if you want to have the flexibility to change the themes of the meeting rooms or make any other adjustments, you can make it a non-recurring meeting. In this case, assuming you’re using Zoom, the link will expire 30 days after the meeting technically ends, so make sure you create new meetings, with new links, no less frequently than once a month.
Succeeding in the new remote work landscape is about more than just keeping tasks and projects moving along. Maintaining morale is crucial, too – and that depends on your team members’ ability to interact with each other on an impromptu basis outside the parameters of work. Don’t limit your use of Zoom to strictly-business meetings with hard start and stop times – try it as a tool for facilitating unstructured culture-building, as well.