The awkward toasts. The French press and cocktail shaker close-ups. Even the cats who scamper in from off-screen.
If you’re like many people who used to work in an office and are now stuck at home, you’ve likely gotten a bit tired of the tropes and rituals of Zoom coffee breaks and happy hours. While Zoom (or any other videoconferencing tool) might seem less demanding than in-person events, since there’s no need to leave your home or even put on pants, researchers have found video sessions can be their own source of stress. That’s in part due to factors such as the need to focus on facial cues from tiny pictures and fears of technical failures or other surprises, such as pets, kids, or spouses entering the frame, that apply to work social events as much as more formal meetings.
But even if you’ve come to dread Zoom happy hour, many of us still crave the social side of work and want to connect with our colleagues. Companies also have a vested interest in helping their employees communicate and work well together—which can be more difficult to achieve remotely. Remote teams often have to make special efforts to ensure workers are engaged and collaborating well, says Gibb Dyer, a professor at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business who has written extensively about team building.