Can Solitaire Solve the Remote Work Debate?

woman leading corporate training session

Just two weeks after Elon’s Musk memo on employees having to return to a physical office sparked heated conversations in the HR and L&D world, rumors began circulating that Microsoft is testing casual games for Microsoft Teams in an effort to make the experience of virtual meetings more immersive.  

While there is yet an official announcement to come from Microsoft, introducing games to Microsoft Teams ties into their vision of creating virtual spaces where employees can network and socialize. This is part of a broader effort to tap into the Metaverse, something the company announced in November 2021.  

As two of the leading tech companies seem to have vastly different visions of the future of work, HR and L&D professionals might be left feeling confused. Will a game of Solitaire really improve team spirit? Or is this just another unnecessary distraction in a time of digital fatigue?  

We decided to run a short LinkedIn poll to our audience of over 29.000 HR and L&D professionals, and opinions are split. While some are unsure what to think, the majority view it as a positive addition (52%). However, 29% of respondents believe that games integrated into Microsoft Teams will only cause more distraction.  

Improve communication skills for your entire workforce with digital language training –  contact Speexx for more information

The Bigger Picture 

Looking further than a leaked memo or games arriving to Microsoft Teams, these two opposite perspectives stem from the same problem: the virtual work experience is still lacking. 

In fact, data shows that new hires who joined a new company during the pandemic are 20% less likely to adhere to the company culture and vision. This significantly impacts integration, feelings of belonging, and overall team spirit.  

As hybrid work is here to stay, there is an increasing need to fill the remaining gaps in the employee experience. In the race towards operational excellence, organizations need to make changes that increase performance, improve work relationships, and help teams nurture a feeling of belonging.  

Before you rethink your entire employee experience strategy, improving virtual meetings is one of the low-hanging fruits you can already enjoy.  

virtual corporate training session

Making Meetings Great Again  

Often, minor changes integrated into a daily routine have the most significant long-term impact.  

With an international workforce working from different offices and locations around the world, we’ve also faced this challenge at Speexx. So here are some simple steps we’ve implemented with our own workforce:  

1. Time management 

Start by agreeing to only set meetings for a maximum of 50 minutes. This ensures that even the busiest of employees will have a break between meetings. They can step away from the screen and grab a cup of coffee. Allowing enough buffer time between consecutive meetings also makes it easier to respect one’s schedule.  

2. Clarity of purpose & focus 

It’s easy to get distracted during a meeting, so make sure you set a clear objective even before shooting out that meeting invite. Always add the objective in the meeting invitation, so that participants can prepare ahead of time, thus making the conversation more efficient.  

Once you have your goal and are prepared for the meeting, it’s time to focus on the issue that you’re there to discuss. Keeping a meeting agenda and putting together a list of actionable next steps are paramount to not having people feeling like this meeting could have been an email.  

3. Presence 

Best practice for virtual meetings is for participants to always have their cameras turned on. However, there are situations when that is simply not possible. But instead of lurking in the dark, be transparent with your colleagues. Let them know that this time, you would be more comfortable with your camera off.  

However, this should always be the exception to the rule. Seeing your colleagues, even if just through a camera, makes people feel closer and it helps with team communication. 

4. Collaboration  

Consider using collaborative tools, such as a virtual whiteboard for meetings requiring innovative ideas or collaboration. There are many tools available and specifically designed to improve the hybrid workplace. You can check this list we’ve put together to help you get started.  

One of the advantages of a collaborative tool is that it encourages the more introverted team members to bring forward their ideas without feeling like they are being put on the spot. 

It’s also a good idea to give people a few minutes with cameras, and mics turned off to brainstorm and then return, taking the pressure off and letting the inspiration flow.  

Implementing these changes and holding your peers accountable will improve the virtual meeting experience. Your workforce will feel more respected, connected, and confident that they can achieve operational excellence. In the end, you might not even need a game of Solitaire before that budget discussion.  

To find out more about the hybrid workplace and how to successfully manage a remote workforce, make sure to check out this free Speexx whitepaper.