There are obvious privacy dangers here. Having all your words transcribed could be “a stifling experience as an employee,” says John Davisson, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The prospect of having idle banter immortalized could make everyone less talkative. Worse, it allows for what Brookings Institute scholar John Villasenor calls “retrospective surveillance” when it comes to authoritarian governments. If your bosses want to fire you, they can rifle through their mammoth files to find something that seems incriminating. Plus, some transcription AIs appear (surprise, surprise) to have racist biases. In a recent study she coauthored, Stanford engineering PhD Allison Koenecke found that AIs from Apple, IBM, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft were worse at transcribing Black speakers than white ones.
In our always-on world, burnout has long been a threat. But in 2020 burnout became rampant, seemingly overnight. Within weeks millions of people lost their jobs and faced financial and food insecurity. People working on the front lines worried for their physical safety, and those in health care put their lives at risk every day. A third of U.S. employees started “living at work” — with the kitchen table as their new pseudo-office. Over the year acute stress would become chronic stress. And it shows few signs of abating.
Today’s level of burnout is the result of an existing problem made exponentially worse. Yet despite how massive the problem is, it’s never too late to fix it. Combating burnout may feel like an overwhelming and herculean task, especially after months of emotional fatigue, but if you’re armed with the right tools, it can be easier than you might think. And ready or not, we can’t ignore the urgency — we are in the midst of a burnout epidemic.
Teaming up together, Leiter, Maslach, and David Whiteside, the director of insights and research at YMCA WorkWell, and I created a survey that analyzes the state of burnout and well-being during Covid-19. We combined several evidence-based scales, including the Maslach Burnout Inventory General Survey (MBI-GS), a psychological assessment of occupational burnout, and the Areas of Worklife Survey (AWS), which assesses employees’ perceptions of work-setting qualities that affect whether they experience engagement or burnout.
Moss discusses how organisational issues are often put on individuals to resolve. In response, she provides a number of ‘upstream interventions’ for moving forward. These include more flexible working conditions associated with working from home, reviewing the need to meetings, being empathetic and checking in on people’s well-being.
- Ask, Is this meeting necessary?
- If yes, then ask:
- Does it have to be a video call?
- Does it have to be longer than 30 minutes?
- Which attendees are absolutely essential?
- Can we turn off our cameras and use our photos or avatars instead?
- Can we do an audio-only conference call for a much-needed screen break?
- Start meetings with a check-in: How are people feeling? Does anyone have a back-to-back call? If you’re leading the meeting, set a timer so you can let anyone who does have one jump off five to 10 minutes early.
I wonder if the pandemic, rather than changing everything, has merely amplified what is already in place? As the organisation I work for considers bringing everyone back, it feels like some of the elephants in the office have simply gotten bigger.
We Are Open Co-op is proud to present our new, free email-based course: The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Virtual Meetings! This is part of a new series we have entitled… Skills for the New Normal
Although some aspects may seem obvious, what the course does really well is clearly laying out a map of the land. I think that the challenge is reviewing and refining the new normal that has quickly become ingrained.
Like most organizational changes, meetings will only get better when those in leadership positions decide to make them so. Perhaps the ubiquity of all these Zoom meetings over the past month will get people thinking and talking about better ways to communicate and collaborate at work. Whether you stay with distributed work or go back to a location, improving meetings will not only raise morale but make room for what is really important in every workplace now — learning.
The number of attendees should not exceed the number of people who can have lunch on two medium pizzas. Small teams are better than large teams, even if it hurts your ego. Meetings with many attendees are information sessions where most attendees are passive.
My introduction to organizing meetings was in the military, where different types of meetings had standard structures. The Orders Format was something any officer could recite from memory. During officer training we were shown the 1976 John Cleese film, which was updated in 1993 — Meetings, Bloody…