• Will Zesiger

Want a Productive Virtual Workplace? Work Less. Play More.

I’m going to go on a limb and say something a bit controversial: we need to spend less time working in our virtual offices. Now, before I dive into this further, let me stipulate that I don’t mean we shouldn’t do work or be productive - quite the opposite. Instead, what I’m suggesting is that an overcrowded schedule with too much work in the virtual office leads to diminishing returns.

This can take many forms but here are a few examples:

  1. No breaks between video-chat meetings. In a traditional office environment, back-to-back meetings with no time in between are almost impossible to schedule since you need to factor in walk time. Without these brief breaks, virtual meetings can easily stack up into a wall of never-ending meetings. Have you ever noticed that back-to-back virtual meetings often feel more draining than in-person conversations?

  2. No casual conversations with peers. Onsite in an office, conversation amongst peers happens naturally, but in a virtual environment, this same dynamic has to be strategically implemented. Although casual conversations don’t generate profit for a company directly, they are key for building comradery, trust and community amongst your team.

  3. No visual cues for scheduled breaks. When people start making/eating lunch or grabbing a cup of coffee in the break room, you have a visual cue to know it’s okay to do that for yourself. In a virtual workplace, there is no such cue and employees can assume they haven’t ‘earned a break.’

For me, this situation spells a recipe for burnout. Since we’ve always been 100% remote at Cheer Partners, we have a lot of experience when it comes to creating a healthy and well-balanced virtual workplace. Here are some of my favorite strategies:

  1. Mandatory time windows after meetings. By simply blocking out a few minutes after all meetings, employees are able to gather their thoughts, properly prepare for their next call and reduce zoom fatigue. At Cheer Partners, we mandate 15-mindful minutes between calls.

  2. Create channels for non-work talk. It may not seem critical on the surface, but channels like this are incredibly important for building a virtual community. Employees will invest more of themselves into a company if they can share more of who they are with their co-workers.

  3. Lead your team by example. Remind your employees to take the time they need to recharge during the day by taking it for yourself. Whether it’s a short walk around the block to get fresh air, making a quick snack or scheduling PTO, these cues will let your employees know how important it is to support their own needs. Actions like this foster a sustainable work culture.

  4. Mindfulness is more than a buzzword. We’ve all seen this word float around for the past few years, but it truly makes an impact when it’s implemented in the workplace. At Cheer Partners and across our parent company, we offer each of our employees access to the CALM mindfulness app so they can incorporate mindfulness into their daily routine.

  5. Create time for community activities. Sometimes people need to just change the channel and do something different in order to be more productive. At Cheer Partners, we’ve implemented optional 15-minute , company-wide activities that employees can choose to participate in throughout the week. Activities range from at-desk workouts, stretching and mindfulness to virtual lunch hangouts. These short breaks are a terrific way to re-energize your team throughout the day, boost morale, and improve company culture.

These are great strategies but there are undoubtedly more I haven’t covered. If there’s something that works well for you and your team, make sure to let us know!