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Working from home: How are you finding Zoom, virtual business meetings, etc.?

Mattg

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Since the travel shutdown, many of us are now working from home and using video conferencing software such as Zoom to conduct meetings we previously would have had face-to-face. Business travel is almost non-existent nowadays, conferences are cancelled, etc.

There has been lots of commentary about how many employers will continue to embrace the "work from home" concept after COVID-19, and how business travel will take years to recover - even if there is a vaccine - as businesses decide that they don't need to spend all that money flying people around the world when virtual meetings will do.

I'd be interested to hear the AFF community's thoughts on this. How are you finding working from home? Is Zoom quite OK, or do you find it's no replacement for face-to-face meetings?
 

VPS

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I already work part time from home because we're scattered all over Australia and our head office is in the UK where they have an office. For the last 20 years I've worked for international companies so always had lots of remote meetings. We started out with Zoom and have now moved to Microsoft Teams which I quite like (sorry for the Bill Gates haters especially since he's responsible for the Chinese Virus :p )

I think there are many people who will get on a plane at the drop of a hat because they need to meet FTF with someone and it could easily be done over the phone but their ego likes to tell people how many flights they had to make last week.

BUT having said all that you can not overestimate the importance of meeting colleagues and customers FTF and as we all know many of the good things that come out of conferences are the private chats you have with people and there is nothing like having a drink or two to iron out a few differences.
 

Pushka

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Have been using Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Both have been useful and because this is a global thing then everyone has been happy to just keep connected. However, many have commented that they are now stuck at their desk, going from zoom meetings one after the other and fatigue from the screen is kicking in. These businesses are concerned with strategic planning so meetings are unavoidable in collaborative projects. Today the client in Melbourne is having their first meeting in the office but because of SAs border issues, it is still a meeting from afar. They seem to be hanging out for the face to face return. Others seem happier to maintain more of the work from home environment.
 

Hvr

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We use MS Teams at work and I hate it. Fortunately we stopped doing the video component very quickly, mainly because the office internet couldn't handle the bandwidth requirements.

We have a family Zoom meeting once a week to see my sister's grandchildren and that's great for a limited time.

Once the pandemic eases a bit we may have to go to the office but lots of us only want a maximum of 1-2 days per week there. Fortunately for me, my boss loves WFH so I'll be supported.

My work is either with external clients (government role) and it's very irregular contact so no need to build personal relationships. Or it's doing desk work with little interaction with others. Perfect for working from home. We a work issue Surface Pro and connecting it up to two screens means I have a discrete computer system with no chance of interaction with my personal computer which sits beside this set up.

Mobile phone with number blocked and my hands free head set ensures WH&S is maintained, including with the adjustable desk and chair.

I am dreading going back to the office, getting dressed (properly or even at all) and having to pretend to like people and socially interact with them more than once a week where they can't see my face and body language.

No commuting is simply awesome. Not dealing with sick germy people on the train is simply a blessing.

I would love to be able to travel again soon but otherwise this is a good time for me.
 

jakeseven7

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Have been using Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams.

None of them have been designed as replacements for F2F meetings, just supplements - so in an era where we can't do any F2F right now they are all equally awful!

Technically and ease of use Zoom is best if you don't care about security so much, Webex is fraught with technical issues and poor sound quality and Microsoft teams is barely used, like anything Microsoft these days.

Our teams are really struggling with 100% remote but going back into office in a few weeks THANK GOD. We are all ready to kill each other working like this!
 

Zanzara

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I could be wrong, but I think a lot of 'business' travel in the past could have realistically have been undertaken using Zoom/Webex/Teams or any other video conferencing app or even by conference call. Some hate travel for work as it can be tedious, uncomfortable or annoying. Lots of FFs though like to travel for lots of reasons - including accumulating points status and upgrades for leisure travel; 'escaping the mrs/partner,' claiming expenses or dodging the responsibility of domestic chores or just a bit of a break from routine....

Just my 2c but even though many aren't a huge fan; zoom is convenient and for some that have space and peace at home, it works. The longer we survive and work effectively using these type of applications, unless sales can be guaranteed as a result of it, during times of economic duress and financial scrutiny, the harder it will probably be in the future to justify the additional expense and time involved business travel.

Personally I hate being stuck in one room for ages as it's too cold to take the laptop out into the garden.
 

jakeseven7

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I could be wrong, but I think a lot of 'business' travel in the past could have realistically have been undertaken using Zoom/Webex/Teams or any other video conferencing app or even by conference call. Some hate travel for work as it can be tedious, uncomfortable or annoying. Lots of FFs though like to travel for lots of reasons - including accumulating points status and upgrades for leisure travel; 'escaping the mrs/partner,' claiming expenses or dodging the responsibility of domestic chores or just a bit of a break from routine....

Just my 2c but even though many aren't a huge fan; zoom is convenient and for some that have space and peace at home, it works. The longer we survive and work effectively using these type of applications, unless sales can be guaranteed as a result of it, during times of economic duress and financial scrutiny, the harder it will probably be in the future to justify the additional expense and time involved business travel.

Personally I hate being stuck in one room for ages as it's too cold to take the laptop out into the garden.
We used Zoom/Webex heaps before corona as well, but also traveled heaps. You need both in our line of work, love or hate it.
 

defurax

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I think for managers who like to solve issues one on one by bumping into staff and chatting for a minute or two, the whole zoom/webex is not very compatible with that. For people who like big meetings, with minimal agenda, where everyone likes the sound of their own voice, then zoom is the same as usual boardroom meetings. :p
 

serfty

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I had some practice in the first 10 weeks of the year with a few days WFH / Remotely. So I had the technology already up and running.

Haven't used Zoom.

Company imposed a two week WFH on me after I returned from BKK on 10th March but the national lock down happened before that finished.

My routine is to start early and do stuff for a couple of hours before taking a coffee break in anticipation of two consecutive daily team meetings taking place. First is a phone conference with 10-15 involved, the second a MS Teams video meet with up to 6 'attending'.

After that a longer break then back at it until about 12:30 where I go for a ~3km walk, generally with SWMBO followed by lunch.

The afternoon efforts are broken up with a couple of leg stretching interludes looking to finally disconnect after 4pm (varies - I sent my last work related email today after 5pm).

I have found that if I am having day off, I need to set an OOO auto reply on emails, set lync to "not at work" and Teams to "not available".

The trick is to ensure I get out of my seat every 90 minutes or so. (It helps that I need to navigate stairs on my 30 second 'commute'.)

I certainly do not miss my 2½ hours of daily commute (1¼ each way, 12½ per week).
 
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SeatBackForward

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Been working from home for myself mostly for the past five years and use Goto Meeting, Skype for Business and now Teams. Haven't jumped onto zoom yet, except when the other party selects it as their tool. Frankly i don't think I could go back to the typical workplace environment anymore, mostly because of being a sole operator, but also being able to avoid commutes and meaningless weekly kitchen meeting..

Make sure you have a good headset is my tip. I use Jabra Evolve 75's at my desk and Jabra Evolve 75e when I'm out and about. Both sync to my laptop wirelessly and automatically work with all the above online meeting options, but also bluetooth to my smartphone and automatically switch to that when receiving phone calls. Decent sound and noise cancelling when listening to music as well.
 

VPS

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I agree with the decent headsets - it's really annoying when people are using their computer audio or cr@ppy headsets. I use Sennheiser from Simply Headsets and they use bluetooth and I can press the button to answer a call when I'm not near the phone
 

Anna

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My work is mainly reading, thinking and writing with occasional meetings. So electronic meetings have been fine (huge data munchers, but fine). I'd be happy to carry on with the new way.

One of my friends has a job that seems to be back to back meetings. She has absolutely hated WFH because she hasn't even been able to get 5 minutes to herself between meetings to walk to a different meeting room, she's just been on the computer all day. She says she hasn't felt so exhausted since her kids were tiny. She can't wait to go back to the old way.
 

Pushka

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One of my friends has a job that seems to be back to back meetings. She has absolutely hated WFH because she hasn't even been able to get 5 minutes to herself between meetings to walk to a different meeting room, she's just been on the computer all day. She says she hasn't felt so exhausted since her kids were tiny. She can't wait to go back to the old way
Yes. That is indeed our experience.
 

jakeseven7

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She should schedule 30 minute breaks and put that on her work's calendar - I do.
Really great idea in theory but doesn’t always work in practice in large corporates and senior management. We have multiple senior stakeholders from around the world throwing meetings in left right and centre and you have to match your diary to suit.
Not everyone has the decency (or ability if it’s a large group) to accomodate everyone’s availability including scheduled breaks...
 

jakeseven7

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My work is mainly reading, thinking and writing with occasional meetings. So electronic meetings have been fine (huge data munchers, but fine). I'd be happy to carry on with the new way.

One of my friends has a job that seems to be back to back meetings. She has absolutely hated WFH because she hasn't even been able to get 5 minutes to herself between meetings to walk to a different meeting room, she's just been on the computer all day. She says she hasn't felt so exhausted since her kids were tiny. She can't wait to go back to the old way.
Pretty much the experience of all senior management I suspect!

I can see a world where we work flexibly a little - but on your own/agreed terms not this ‘everyone work from home’ model that only suits a handful of industries/departments working methods.

We might for example move all our call centre permanently home.
 
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Pushka

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We might for example move all our call centre permanently home.
Arggh. Yesterday I had to call B2Bpay as a biller. Finally got through after a queue, answered by the person, next thing I hear a child crying out for mummy, next thing I'm hung up on. Some may use WFH as a reason not to send kids to child care and save money.
 

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