Texture, size: how women in the home office do not get lost in meetings

“You dumb” – who does not know the phrase? The expert offers tips on how to be in the home office and get real involved.

While very little has remained constant in the ever-changing “new normal,” one note has remained the same over the years – I feel as though my quieter colleagues in virtual work life are getting quieter. It wouldn’t be surprising that female colleagues are often among the calmer people.


© Anna Maria Henk

Nina Michahelles is Google’s industry leading consumer brand and supports global consumer goods groups in achieving ambitious growth goals and mastering Germany’s digital transformation. Over the past ten years, she has continued her successful career in consumer goods at Colgate-Palmolive and before moving to Google she was Managing Director for Germany. Nina lives in Hamburg with her husband, two daughters, and newcomer Wieslar Röcke.

More women in the home office

This was also confirmed by an American study, which showed that women had an average speaking time of 25 percent less. In this regard, I appeal to all “quiet” women – as well as men – to unmute you, whether in a virtual or a hybrid environment.

The timing couldn’t be better: On March 20, with the Corona Protection Act expiring, the home office commitment also ends and companies can send their employees back to the office. For women in particular, this has job flaws, as LinkedIn discovered in a study of 2,500 employees and human resource managers in Germany.

Fifty-six percent of human resource managers expect more men to return to their desks after the pandemic, while many women will continue to work from home — and also to look after the household and the household there is a “side”. 22 percent of HR managers assume that this can make it difficult for women to maintain relationships with colleagues.

24 percent also expect women to have fewer job opportunities as a result. Against the background that working life will continue primarily in virtual and blended meetings, it is crucial to be visible and present and not hide behind the unmute button or the camera shutdown button.

This text was created in collaboration with the professional network female mission.

Tips for more presence and clarity

Before the meeting begins, sit up straight and talk about yourself before entering the appointment. Ideally, the gaze should not be directed at the laptop, but rather should be directed straight ahead “at eye level” with all the other participants. A great side effect – the back and eyes are happy too. If you only work with a laptop, just get a bunch of books to raise your laptop up to your eyes.

Join the meeting

During the appointment, 100 percent active attendance must apply, either as a meeting chair or as a participant.

• It is also important to pay attention to your nonverbal communication. So that you don’t let your eyes wander and thus indicate that you are already doing something else, this helps reduce distractions, especially during important dates. This can be done, for example, by closing the mail and chat windows or muting the cell phone.

• I also find it easier to focus on everyone else when I can’t see myself on the screen. Although I’m not in vain, taking care of yourself while talking is probably a human phenomenon. As I “underestimated” myself and no longer see myself, I pay more attention to the nonverbal communication of others while speaking, and thus can respond to feedback.

• Even if you are participating in “Mute” mode – active listening can be indicated, for example, using the chat functions or emojis of Google Meet.

• I find it particularly useful to use talk time trackers such as Google Meet or apps such as Discourse or other talk time managers. It also works great in meetings with your team and employees, in 1:1, for example, you can make sure you have enough room for employees.

• Distractions that you cannot control? The prism is ringing, children need a minute? There is hardly a meeting where this does not happen. I recommend a short verbal message in a small group, otherwise in a larger conversation, with the comment “Oops for a minute” or more informally in the team “Back immediately” or the English equivalent “BRB”, which means “Be right back” is written .

Leading Meetings

If you are leading a meeting, it is critical to positively influence the attention and participation of other participants.

• While it’s of course difficult to just get up and leave the room from an actual conference room, mentally “walking” around other activities on your laptop is at least very easy. Adds interaction options, such as questions, for which chat and polling functions can be used. In virtual meetings, you should be more careful, the recommendation is to engage the other participants after ten minutes at most.

• Important for Mixed Events – With the increased flexibility of ‘work from home’, it will become more common for some meeting participants to sit together in the office while others call from home. Ensure that the music is not only played in the actual meeting room, but an all-inclusive framework has been created. Depending on the scale, it might be worth calling a “universal ninja” whose job is to ensure everyone has an equal say, as well as the classic “Time Ninja” making sure the agenda is kept on time. I’m already seeing more and more that the arrangement of virtual hand signals is being ignored and the discussion in the actual meeting room develops its own dynamic.

• As with many other activities, it makes sense to find a partner who supports you depending on the purpose of the meeting and the group of participants, for example by recording and editing questions from the chat.

• Another great tool is the Recording function – while the main reason here is of course to make the content accessible to people who missed the meeting, it also teaches yourself well after looking at the recording and thinking about what went well and what could be better next time .

take chances

So there are a variety of ways to use appointments of any kind to make a positive impression and contribute to your presence. I can just invite anyone who feels addressed at one time or another to try out some tips. It is hoped that the following study on the topic of speaking time will show that women also take advantage of opportunities equally. As always, according to Erich Kastner: “There is nothing good except – you (or a woman!) do it.” So enjoy and good luck with the dissatisfaction!

Female Mission – X-CHANGE

As one of the leading women’s networks, Mission Female aims to create platforms and highlight the needs of female managers. Under the slogan #notdoneyet, inspiring personalities at this year’s X-CHANGE come together to take a clear stand in order to achieve more on the issue of equality. X-CHANGE is a global leadership event that brings together influential and influential figures from business, media, technology and finance to find ways to empower women. It will be held on June 29, 2022 in Hamburg and will be broadcast online. Tickets are available here.

More and more Germans are working from home

More and more Germans are working from home

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