How we have our agenda filled by Zoom and Teams

At her baby shower, my former roommate Nicole proudly tells us how long she is pregnant: 34 weeks. The crowd frowned for a moment. They are probably, like me, gently dividing the number by 4. Only Maria, who already has two children, seems to have no problem with it. “When did you start thinking in weeks?” Sandra asks. That comes naturally, is the answer. In pregnancy books you can read how the baby develops per week, the gynecologist and midwife speak in weeks. You automatically participate.

Similarly, Zoom and Teams make us think in hours, not minutes. When you start a new meeting, the time is automatically set to one hour. That’s why meetings usually last an hour, or half an hour. “If you give people a template, they think in that template,” says design expert Daniëlle Arets. “If we want to meet at 9:10, it takes effort. You have to set the time manually and that is a hassle.”

What’s the point, you may think. Then don’t you just stop a little earlier, if you really want to meet shorter? But it’s not that simple. If you have scheduled an hour, the meeting will also last an hour. Arets refers to the Law of Chat: the tacit agreement that we will actually complete the planned meeting time. Before you know it, you’ll be glued to your screen all day. The time you used to walk or cycle to the next meeting disappears. We lose a piece flexitime, says Arets.

Can a different design help us? Arets refers to the NS journey planner app. It takes over the present time. Exactly to the minute. As a result, you automatically start thinking in minutes. You can also adjust time slots to the minute in running apps. These are smart design applications that you could put to good use here.

The NS travel planner takes over the current time.

Lianne Tijhaar

In behavioral psychology we call this nudging. You subtly stimulate people to behave in a desired way. This is also possible with notifications. For example: ‘Are you sure this meeting should last an hour?’ Or: ‘We notice that many of our users are getting tired. Give yourself a 10 minute break.’ According to Arets, such a design would be welcomed with sympathy, as complaints about Zoom fatigue mount.

Can we do something ourselves? There is also such a thing as self-nudging. Some people deliberately schedule 45-minute meetings so that they always have a 15-minute break. “You have to dare to take control yourself,” says Arets. “Functional meetings can easily be done in a 10-minute conversation. But dare to set a creative meeting at 3 o’clock. Then you really don’t have to talk to each other for 3 hours, you can also take a quiet walk in between.”

You can already see these kinds of constructions at digital book clubs and ‘Zoom get-togethers’ among friends, who turn on their camera and microphone in the evening while they rummage through the house or read a book. That has something to do with our perception of time. Computable clock time gives way to what Nobel laureate Henri Bergson called ‘lived time’.

Few people spend part of the day with colleagues via Zoom or Teams. While that would be a good idea according to Arets. “People miss the freedom to occasionally complain, or to spontaneously offer help if you notice that someone is having a problem. That only works if you sit together in a room. You don’t call someone specifically for that.”

What are the disadvantages? You can open Zoom for a morning, but realize that that one colleague’s four yapping terriers are also present. Nothing is more annoying than the background noise of another household. Sometimes mute unavoidable, and with that, the threshold for commenting on something trivial is immediately returned. “You never really spend a day together,” Arets concludes. So maybe we’re better off with fifteen minutes me-time between meetings. But don’t forget to set your alarm, because you are expected again in 15 minutes.

Source: Kennislink by

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