Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
I’m not one for being early. With the pandemic came working from home, and I embraced the change. All I need is a computer and internet, and I can work. The fact that I can literally get out of bed 5 minutes before work and still arrive 2 minutes early is my kind of jam. Don’t get me wrong, I like being on time but being too early always seemed like a drag.
But I recently had a conversation with a co-worker that changed all of that. I was tasked with hosting a video meeting. One of the participants had some computer problems in the past, so the meeting was fired up a half-hour early to deal with any issues. After just a few minutes, we were up and going. But then the two of us had 15 minutes — just us on video the call — before anyone else joined.
In that time, we discussed a few different things, but they led to the question, “how do you like working remotely?” In typical fashion, the answer included pros and cons. A con was we’ve lost group talk. For example, if I have a problem and ask someone in one office, someone in another office may overhear and have something valuable to add to the conversation.
For the rest of the meeting, all I thought about was group talk. It really was the only thing that wasn’t satisfied while working remotely. I still had meetings, I still talked to people, I still emailed, there were still phone calls. But those things are almost entirely one to one in the experience every day at home. I started to think of where I group talked in the office and how it made work enjoyable.
Then it dawned on me: I just had one of the group talks I was missing.
We were 10 minutes away from our video meeting when others got on the call, and when they did, they joined the conversation we were already having.
I’ve been a part of many video meetings, and I can’t think of one that didn’t work like this, where a few folks joined the call early and ended up talking about things not on the meeting agenda Sometimes, the conversations were about life; sometimes they were about getting help with projects, but they all happened in the pre-chatter before a video meeting.
That 10 minutes before a meeting really is the most precious time we have, and it’s the same thing that happens in an in-person boardroom if you show up early, as well. The human species is a social one, albeit more for some than others. When we are struggling to connect and feel human, that 10 minutes can, all of a sudden, be the best 10 minutes of your work day.
I’m willing to bet almost all of us have felt it, but we haven’t recognized it, nor appreciated it.
I may not wake up any earlier, but I will log on to video meetings earlier for that little slice of happiness.