Zoom-Free Fridays is not a new idea. But it is an idea whose time has come.
Here are 8 reasons why all of us - you, me, and everyone across the higher ed ecosystem - should commit to Zoom-Free Fridays:
#1 - From “Me” to “We”: Zoom-Free Fridays become easier if this is a “we” instead of a “me” decision. Every individual would benefit from a solid day to focus, think, and get stuff done. But it is hard for any single individual to opt out. Let’s do this together.
#2 - Reverse-Network Effects: I actually don’t know if reverse-network effects is a thing - as I think I just made it up. (Although I’m confident that I’m late to that particular party). The idea is that the more people say no to Zoom meetings on Friday, the easier it is for every individual to avoid ending up in a Friday Zoom.
#3 - From Policy to Culture: A Zoom-Free Friday policy is fragile. People don’t like being constrained by policies. Everyone believes that their work is the exception to the policy. Urgent meetings and important decisions and all that. Culture is more durable. A culture that values time and space for people to focus on their work will better preserve the norm of Zoom-Free Fridays.
#4 - Burnout: Everyone who works in higher ed is burned out. No, it is not just you. We have not even begun to take stock of the impact of the pandemic on career satisfaction and productivity. A Zoom-Free Friday would be an acknowledgment that everyone needs a break.
#5 - Friction: Zoom has become the new e-mail. Too friction-free. Too easy to “hop on a Zoom.” Too easy to include lots of people. (The cc effect). Setting a day of no Zooming will make it hard to Zoom. This may lead us to think twice before sending a Zoom invite or adding a colleague to that invitation.
#6 - Flexibility: Weirdly, COVID has made it more challenging to do some of those non-work activities that have to be scheduled during work hours. The reason is that we now have so many more meetings, as Zoom gatherings are easier to organize than in-person meetings. We need time to do some non-weekend errands and tasks that must be done during “business hours.” A Zoom-Free Friday would allow us to time-shift our days easier, getting work done early or late - and leaving time to run those errands.
#7 - Zoom Focus: How often are we in Zoom meetings while doing something else? We try to Zoom multitask, which of course, always fails. Maybe if we gain a Zoom-Free day, we will be more willing to focus on the Zoom meetings we have left.
#8 - Reading and Writing: Deep reading and effective writing take focused time. It is near impossible to read anything longer than a tweet when we are running between Zoom meetings. Writing anything beyond the shortest of e-mails gets pushed to nights and weekends. Let’s give folks a chance to read and write.
Who can make the decision to move to a Zoom-Free Friday? Is this a top-down mandate or a friendly suggestion?
Perhaps this is a grassroots movement with enough of us going Friday Zoom-Free that this becomes the new normal.
Should we stop at turning off Zoom on Fridays? What about e-mail and Slack-free Fridays?
Have you tried blocking off your calendar on Friday? How’s it going?
Should we jump on a Zoom to discuss?