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Yes, Zoom Meetings Can Help Productivity — With The Right Tactics And Tools

Patrick Sisson,

The emergence of a new way to decorate the yard for Halloween — a deskbound skeleton engaged in what can only be called the truly endless Zoom meeting — underscores just how much the newly remote workforce is over videoconferencing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. New research, and a number of new apps and tools, suggest that new ways to hold video meetings can help break up the monotony of presentations and digital gatherings, and ultimately, help sales teams perform better.

A group of four academics, writing in the Harvard Business Review, decided to find out if managers at a sales call center could encourage better ways to share knowledge among teams, quantify improvements and raise overall effectiveness.

The Pareto Principle — 80% of the work is done by 20% of the team — and the competitive nature of those engaged in sales and commission-based rewards suggested that sharing knowledge wasn’t just challenging in and of itself, but might be discouraged or avoided due to fears of falling behind. But, if the skills of that 20% could be leveraged for the rest of the team, it would significantly improve overall performance.

Nearly six months of tests and trials featuring more than 600 workers suggested that guided meetings — where pairs of workers analyzed their individual performances for the week, shared results with their partner, then discussed problems and solutions together — were the best way to improve performance, netting a 24% gain.

That gain was even more impressive considering incentive-based means of raising a pairs’ performance, such as providing team incentives, only increased revenue by 13%. The 24-week experiment cost $15K to set up, and resulted in a “7-figure increase in revenue,” per the research report.

What does it have to do with Zoom? The authors of the study argue that the increased ease in scheduling private one-on-one meetings via video chat makes it easier for sales teams in industries such as commercial real estate to see similar boosts in performance, and more quickly apply the results of their research.

More strategic, focused meetings, especially digital meetings, could help make Zoom fatigue less pressing. A number of new software companies believe their apps or products can further facilitate more casual, spur-of-the-moment interaction.

Remotion, pitched as a more casual chatting tool, and the Sims-like avatar meeting program Teooh were designed to foster more quick and casual digital interaction. Another new app, Mmhmm, enables new functionality while doing video presentations, namely superimposing your image on top of a background or a slide deck like a television meteorologist running down a weather map.

“If you’re just in a postage stamp, Brady Bunch box Zoom call, none of us knew how to interact, how to be persuasive, how to be charismatic on video,” Mmhmm founder Phil Libin told Fast Company.

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