As the pandemic moves to its latest phase, we are mindful that this is a moment to engage in reflection about how we work and how we can work smarter. Here’s how our team is planning to move forward.

TVP Comms has always been remote, so some of the tools and services institutions adopted in March 2020 were already our normal. And we adapted quickly to the peculiarities of COVID-19 work—when our second annual Zoom service charge hit our credit cards last month, we noted it only took us a week after the world shut down to realize we’d need more than the free version we’d always used. Zoom was a lifeline for us to connect with each other and with our clients, but somewhere along the line Zoom became our industry’s default option for every meeting and conversation. There have been many pieces written about Zoom exhaustion and for our team, it is very real. We’ve sporadically pushed back on Zoom-as-default, but now we’re going public with our intention to reserve Zoom for calls that benefit from seeing faces like new client on-boarding, need observation of nonverbal communications cues among attendees, include hard-of-hearing clients, require group review of a document or presentation, or include brainstorming sessions with visual components.

We’re also pushing back on another industry default: hour-long meetings. We helped clients draft comprehensive responses to complex and seemingly ever-changing guidance during the pandemic. These meetings would routinely stretch to 90 minutes or two hours out of necessity. Now, we find that meetings stretch to fill the allotted calendar invite even if the tasks at hand require less time. So we’re resetting our standard calendar blocks to 45 minutes (and even 30 minutes where appropriate). This shift allows time for our team and our client partners to write and implement the communications we were meeting to discuss. By more proactively managing calendars, we’re preserving that vital 15 minutes of downtime after meetings to eat lunch, let the dog out, take a quick walk, or even just take a deep breath before our next meeting.

Lastly, our most significant shift is one that we’ll be testing this summer. After closely observing the workflow for our team and our partner campuses, we believe a four-day workweek is possible without sacrificing the quality or quantity of attention we devote to our clients. Our team will have additional flexibility that underscores how much their contributions are valued and provides time to recharge so that we come to work with energy and creativity. We’ll continue to be a five-days-a-week operation, staggering out-of-office days so that the work gets done and clients can always reach us. And at the end of the summer, we’ll evaluate our results and determine next steps.

One of the hardest things about COVID was adapting to the new world of work. But in challenging our routines, we now have an opportunity to think about work differently. For TVP Comms, this reflection means we’re asking what our team needs to serve our clients best and finding creative solutions to ensure work remains a place where we bring our best selves. And with renewed energy and focus, we can approach our days refreshed, ready and eager to work together with our clients in telling higher education’s story.