Even though schools and offices are now back in buildings together, the online meeting is still a very common and now routine part of daily life. When purely online relationships finally turn into face-to-face meetings, we already know what each other looks like and sounds like, so the only surprises tend to be how tall […]23 Nov 2023
MARIO Connect - July Introductory Message
July 26, 2023
Even though schools and offices are now back in buildings together, the online meeting is still a very common and now routine part of daily life. When purely online relationships finally turn into face-to-face meetings, we already know what each other looks like and sounds like, so the only surprises tend to be how tall or short we are, and perhaps the way we smell!
At MARIO Education, we have built a company in a predominantly online environment. Some of us have never physically met. However, we have been very deliberate in engaging with each other and building relationships at every opportunity. I am very comfortable with face-to-face meetings but struggle a little more with their virtual equivalent. It’s harder to pick up on body language and for others to pick up on mine. In the same room, we seem to know instinctively when to interject and when to pause. Online it’s tougher and we often find ourselves inadvertently interrupting each other simply because we have so much to say. There are other challenges too, such as locally unreliable connectivity, having to use less familiar types of videoconferencing tools, and potentially unpredictable home environments (remember this?). As MARIO Education now has schools on every continent, we also manage multiple time zones.
Building and enhancing relationships is critical to every successful organization and working online, we need to find ways of doing this. At MARIO, we like to spend some time ‘off agenda’ when we meet, checking in on each other and finding out what we’ve been up to. We never run meetings according to a strict, time-bound agenda, as we might if we were physically together. Our online meetings feel more organic, with room for tangents, anecdotes, and of course, laughs.
It’s important that extroverts don’t dominate and that the voices of introverts are heard within a psychologically safe space. It’s a whole new skill to successfully manage meetings online. The key I believe is developing empathy, and we do that through building relationships and finding out more about each other, not just as co-workers but as humans.
As we continue to live and work in person and also online, we need to remind ourselves that the joy of relationships can be present in both. If I’m honest, I do miss being in a school around people. But I also love the team I’m working with now. I have taught myself to value every single interaction and look forward to every one of my online meetings, whether these are with MARIO team members, educators I know, or new connections I’ve never met. In fact, the Harvard Grant study, established in 1938 to investigate the factors surrounding longevity and happiness, and still continuing today, suggests that “close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”
Treasure your relationships, interactions, and even those face-to-face and online meetings. They might even help you live longer!