As I type this, I’m staring at the faces of four of my colleagues (hi, guys!), each of whom looks lost in their own thoughts. Someone briefly un-mutes to make a joke about forgetting they’re on a video call and accidentally doing something weird. Someone else laughs and says, It’s okay, we’re not, like, watching each other.
Whoops. It’s the Forge team’s first remote work session, and what can I say? It’s nice to have the company.
Plenty has been written (including a Daily Tip on this very website) about the productivity benefits of silent video co-working: how the virtual presence of other people can help you focus, or provide a feeling of accountability that helps you knock out your to-dos.
But I’d argue that the primary draw is not productivity. The Zoom Working Session is a form of workplace interaction that feels — well, not fully organic, but maybe the closest we’ve got right now. You have other humans as ambient sights and sounds. Unlike Zoom happy hours, there’s no pressure to say anything, or even pay attention to anyone else. Unlike Slack, there’s no way to edit and delete and retype a thought before it’s shared. Have something you want to say? Just unmute yourself and say it out loud, and take in the real-time reactions.
Or forego mute altogether, as we end up doing about halfway through our hour. There’s something soothing about hearing the clatter of multiple people typing at once. It’s a noise I hadn’t realized I missed.
So, a letter of recommendation: Set up a Zoom meeting with absolutely no agenda. Invite your coworkers, or your work friends, or non-work friends who you want to work next to. And then…. do whatever you need to get done, separately but together.