Are Workers Productive Enough on Zoom?

Judge Napolitano, the former New Jersey Supreme Court Judge and frequent Television Newscaster, speaks out on a variety of subjects including business. And one thing that Napolitano has definite feelings about is the idea of holding team meetings on zoom.

The judge gets the point that with the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are working at home and don’t want to come to the office for meetings. And while some low-level meetings can possibly be facilitated by Zoom or another meeting technology, he is definitely opposed to weekly staff meetings being held via Zoom, or a hybrid of some people participating in person and others participating by Zoom.

The first reason is strategic. While he gets that while many workers will be working from home, now that so many people have become vaccinated for COVID, there is no logical reason why everyone within the office can’t make it to the home office once a week for an hour or so to have both a team meeting and get important facetime with their managers.

And this is to the employee’s benefit as well. While working from home is a privilege, and post-COVID may continue for quite some time, without face-to-face time in front of their managers, said managers may forget just how valuable they are to the company.

The old adage, “out of sight, out of mind” is still true. Managers may notice who has taken the trouble to come to work for a staff meeting and begin to question their loyalty towards the company.

Another key element is how people react to Zoom. Employees will change their children’s diapers, clip their nails, eat in front of others, appear in their pajamas, or even make a Zoom call from the toilet.

Of course, not everyone is so thoughtless, but you shouldn’t do anything on a Zoom call that you wouldn’t do in an ordinary office staff meeting.

The Judge notes that a substantial number of Zoom callers seem distracted and present an “I’d rather be anywhere but here” attitude. This again may cause managers to question just how much work they are actually completing at home.

Judge Napolitano is opposed to zoom meetings for another reason. Let’s say an important member of the team is working from home quite often. When a team meeting is held, they may have very valuable information to add to the team meeting.

However, the manager and the rest of the team may not perceive that the information is as valuable as it might have been when relayed in person.

It’s quite possible that just as people Zooming from home may tend to zone out in staff meetings, that those who attend in person may tend to zone out to those working from home.

Another danger with Zoom participants is that managers cannot assess non-verbal clues.

If an employee says one thing but doesn’t really believe it, managers are adept at picking up the non-verbal clues that tell them “this is not reliable information.”

However, when employees participate via zoom, much of that non-verbal communication is missing. If the Judge had his way, almost all meetings after July of this year would be in person and Zoom staff meetings will be a thing of the past.