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2 Minutes of Silence to Start Your Zoom Meeting: Awkward, or Team-Building Silver Bullet? To create a sense of belonging outside of a building, the key is getting in touch with your inner self, and enabling your employees to do the same.

By Dr. Colleen Batchelder

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Luis Alvarez | Getty Images

George Jetson lied to us. And I'm calling him out.

I don't know about you, but 2021 is not what I expected. Where are all the flying cars? Weren't we all supposed to have talking dogs by now?

Whatever I pictured, it wasn't Zoom meetings in pajama pants or Margarita Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

The majority of us pictured this year differently. We thought 2021 would be sprinkled with fairy dust, and life would fall back into its natural orbit. Sadly, that didn't happen.

We still have some elements of normalcy. After all, I host a game night every Friday night. But have you ever tried playing Twister with masks and face shields? It's not easy to social distance and place your right foot on green.

If you're already tired of 2021, you're not alone. Working from home was never supposed to feel like a life sentence. But, I have good news. Zoom-land doesn't have to be dull and lifeless. Online meetings can be vibrant communities that offer value to you and your employees.

Do you want to bring life to your next video call? Good for you! Let's get you started on this journey with these three tips.

Related: Procrastination or Contemplation? Why Procrastinators Will Rule the Business World.

Check-in with yourself before leading your team

I was the last person that you would find doing downward dog, sipping a Matcha latte, or taking time to smell the roses. Now, I can't function without taking a moment to breathe, center myself, or carve out time for introspection.

Before the current health crisis, I didn't understand the need to check in on my emotional state. I wasn't emotionless. But, I didn't see the purpose of dwelling on my feelings. After all, I'm an executive from Jersey, a New Yorker at heart, and an ENTJ to the core.

I ran for subways, pushed people out the way, and hurried my way to the top. Don't get me wrong; I wasn't that bad. But you get my point.

When I considered the pros and cons of meditation, journaling, or yoga retreats, I would always come to the same question: "Is this worth my time?" After this year, my resounding answer to this question was an absolute YES!

Last March shifted my business plan and my mindset. I knew that to be the leader I needed to be, I needed to be self-aware. In many ways, I needed to step off the treadmill, grieve 2020, and figure out how to move forward well.

I didn't want to rush through the year and run into burnout. So, I centered myself daily with guided meditation, deep breathing, and short walks.

When I embraced these moments of introspection, it filled me as a person. I didn't have to lead my team or have all the answers. I could rest in the space of questions without having to figure out solutions.

When you take the time to check-in and invest in yourself as a person, you bring your best self to your business. It's not enough to be the best business leader if you are running on fumes. You and your personality are what make your organization thrive.

Remember, your organization is not successful because of your title. You made it happen. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of your business. But if you take the time to breathe, you'll lead your company without burning out.

If you want to be more productive, you need to be willing to be present with yourself. Take a walk, strike a yoga pose, or pencil your thoughts into a journal. Figure out how to destress and center yourself so you can lead from a place of wellness.

Related: How to Find Clarity Through the Conscious Breath

Carve out two minutes of silence at the beginning of each meeting

After you've created space for your introspection, carve out space for your team to take note of their well-being.

Taking time to breathe gives you the freedom to be more productive. When you create a space of silence, you enable your company to work from a place of personal health––not insane hustle.

Not everyone has the same workspace. So, when your team cracks a forced smile on your morning Zoom meeting, think about the specific struggles that each person faced before they became camera-ready.

Each person on your screen has a story. And their effort needs to be counted just as much as their productivity.

Countless people are trying to balance life, work, and kids while adjusting to the constant pivots.

Even before this current health crisis, multigenerational households were on the rise. Think about how many of your employees are teaching their children and coordinating medical appointments for their parents.

Not everyone is living with the same privilege.

When you take two minutes before each meeting, you give your employees the ability to breathe, step off the hamster wheel, and switch their attention from their reality to your business.

When your team can redirect their thoughts, it gives them the chance to concentrate and not multitask. By centering on the present, it benefits their well-being and your company. Singular focus increases productivity and creativity.

Related: 5 Strategies to Build a Fun Work Culture That's Also Productive

Ask your team to share their frustrations and give feedback

Working from home is no longer a Millennial conversational topic around the watering hole –– it's the reality that we live in day-in and day-out.

On behalf of my generation, I'm sorry that we pushed for this option. We never thought that working from home would become the only option.

I miss the stale donuts and the burnt coffee. I even miss the hour-long commute, and the drivers who used to wave a New York hello and cut me off. The previous workplace was loud, obnoxious, and even exhausting. But, there was nothing like being one voice amongst many.

Millions of employees are echoing the same sentiment. They miss the interaction, the community, and the sense of belonging. Corporations are bending over backward and doing flips.

But, as much as businesses have worked to create entertaining environments during the pandemic, the majority still have no idea how to make people feel like they belong without being in the same building.

Allowing your team to share their frustrations gives you the chance to operate with solutions. When you know what they're thinking, you can create specific opportunities.

Suppose the majority of your employees are having a hard time adapting to technology. In that case, you can schedule a time to work with them individually or invest in an online course that walks them through the process.

Regardless of the need, when you take the time to listen, you're able to react appropriately and benefit your team.

So, if you're looking for ways to create answers, start with questions. Ask your team to voice their frustrations, email you privately, or fill out an anonymous survey.

Once you know where your employees are coming from, you'll know where to lead them. If you're willing to invest in yourself, foster a relaxed and social environment, and invite your team to share their frustrations, you'll be able to create a vibrant online community––you'll create a space of belonging outside of a building.

Dr. Colleen Batchelder

Leadership Strategist and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant

Dr. Colleen Batchelder approaches generational dissonance through different lenses, including anthropology, theology, sociology and ethnography. She has worked with multiple business leaders to develop corporate environments that resonate and represent the millennial and Generation Z workforce.

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