This is usually a very difficult one for introverted and/or hyper-efficient solo workers. The idea behind virtual work sessions is to schedule a Zoom meeting of up to an entire day where everyone works at their own topic, but may speak or comment at any point in time. This is especially useful if the tasks you are working on are complicated and need a lot of review, discussion and collective decision making.
Do not confuse your personal productivity with that of your entire venture. Several studies (e.g. Edmondson, Harvard) have shown that you cannot add up individual productivity to arrive at venture productivity. Indeed, there is not even a significant correlation between the two. What matters is frequent communication, psychological safety and efficient decision making processes. Therefore it does make sense to sacrifice your own personal productivity for that of the entire venture and schedule virtual work sessions.
If you schedule a virtual work session, be aware that those are different to actually working in the same office. There are a couple of difficulties:
- Team members cannot just come over and look at your documents. You can share your screen, but that is only possible for one person at once. To overcome this issue, you might use Zoom’s ‘break out room’ function or use Google docs if several people want to work on different documents at the same time.
- Team members cannot direct their words to only one person and when they speak, everyone feels addressed. To overcome this issue, Zoom’s ‘break out room’ function is again an option. Alternatively, call each other by name more regularly than in an actual, physical office space.
- Team members do not connect as much as if they’re physically together. The only thing you can do here is to get as close to a physical office space as possible. Using a camera is a must. In the best case, choose a setting so that you always see your peers even when you open different computer programs. Don’t mute yourself. That creates a ‘clean, cold’ feeling that is less close to an actual working environment. Hearing each other typing and seeing the faces of each other encourages team members to share their thoughts more openly. However, make sure to not sit in a café or anywhere where background noises might distract the entire time.
- This fantastic article by Amy Edmondson explains the idea behind and relevance of psychological safety.