Teaching an old dog new tricks is said to be something of a fool’s errand. But, as a farm kid, I saw many a senior canine learn with surprising quickness… especially if a treat was involved.
Humans are pretty great at adapting, too. Although some of us are more comfortable with change than others, most people can accomplish amazing things when faced with when they put their minds to it. 2020 offered proof of that in many ways.
One of them was the evolution of meetings. No longer able to meet face-to-face in the physical world, we quickly learned how to emulate the experience in a digital one. Virtual conferencing sprung up almost overnight to fill the gaps left by social distancing, business closures and quarantines.
Not everyone appreciated the migration to virtual meetings. It certainly took some getting used to. For one thing, the technology made heading into a meeting look a little different. In addition to making sure our ties were straight and our hair was combed, we also had to check that last night’s dishes weren’t still in the sink and that home-schooling children and work-from-home spouses were fully dressed and/or out of camera view.
We had to worry about wi-fi signals, properly downloaded apps and outdated cameras and mics.
Then there was the question of etiquette. Camera on or camera off? Mute or no? Raise your hand, use the emoji or simply speak when ready? Multitasking – efficient or rude?
Over the past several months, however, I’ve observed a sizable shift. Rather than feeling annoyed with the adjustment, most people are embracing the upside of virtual engagements. Although they presented a series of technology and relationship risks, they were no riskier than a physical meeting. Any number of things – from traffic to incorrect directions – can derail an IRL meeting just as dramatically as a bad connection or a broken device.
Enthusiasm for the virtual meeting stems from quite a few positive outcomes. For starters, the 30-minute meeting is enjoying a rebirth. We are checking off lists and making decisions at unprecedented speeds thanks to some really cool apps that make meetings better.
What’s more, first-time introductions that may have happened over email or phone are now happening eyeball-to-eyeball and are so much more meaningful. When you get to see how someone reacts to your ideas or presents ones of their own, the impression is much more concrete. During a normal year, I meet hundreds of people. That did not change in 2020. In fact, I may have met even more thanks to the digital set up.
Whenever I’m faced with something new that I don’t immediately appreciate, I tell myself, “Find some way to like it.” That would be my advice to anyone who may be struggling to adapt to the virtual meeting. Sure, there are risks. Sure, there are annoyances. There are also plenty of rewards for the old dog in each of us.
Mark K. Phillips is vice president of treasury management services for Bank Iowa, Iowa’s second largest family-owned financial institution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more, visit bankiowa.bank. Member FDIC.