Many businesses went 100% online during the pandemic (including mine). However, research shows that working solo with our only human interaction being via screen can negatively impact our health and businesses. It's time for the pendulum to swing back slightly in the other direction. This is a data-backed blog to support a new movement: To reverse the effects of solely online life and business and encourage you to nurture your local community 'village' through the power of in-person connection.
1. Holistic Business Coaching Centers on the Quality of Life
The heart of my sustainable and holistic approach to coaching is the quality of life. When we build our businesses in alignment with who we truly are and the values we hold, we can navigate our entrepreneurial journey with more peace of mind and joy.
I have a gentle approach to my work because experiencing stress and burnout taught me that it's the only way to create sustainable results and a long-lasting business (trust me, trying to lead a team with debilitating migraines is not fun). I also teach digital organization, and because peace of mind and clarity are my most important values, digital peace is non-negotiable for me.
In 2023, I completed my eight-month training with Consciously Digital, who are on a mission to lead the world toward more focused and meaningful lives by balancing online and offline interactions.
Through my study at Consciously Digital, I'm learning how to use technology in my holistic business coaching to help impact-driven entrepreneurs reach their highest potential. My goals are:
To use social media and technology with intention and become a more conscious user.
To improve my clients' learning environment by better understanding the impact of technology on their cognitive processes so they can foster greater focus, growth and well-being.
I hope I can inspire you with what I’ve learned to make small changes and shift the balance between online and in-person relationships in your professional life for more fulfillment and a business that ushers in joy, more spontaneity and creativity.
2. Understanding and Overcoming Zoom Fatigue
Online video conference calls are undoubtedly useful (they saved many businesses during the pandemic), and after operating a brick-and-mortar business for a decade, I appreciate the freedom that comes with having a location-independent venture. However, did you know that too many video calls can put us under psychological and physical strain? On a Zoom call you:
Have to navigate an unnatural amount of eye contact (with 30 tiny faces on a group call).
Have to process an abnormal amount of cognitive load.
Feel you have to stay glued to your chair for hours at a time.
Overall, research shows that back-to-back Zoom meetings will result in us feeling exhausted. Stanford recommends the following tips to reduce Zoom Fatigue:
Turn off Zoom’s full-screen mode. Use the reduced-view window size, and use an external keyboard to create more personal space ‘bubble’ between you and the grid.
Use the ‘hide self-view’ button, to reduce the emotional charge of seeing yourself in a mirror all the time.
Turn off your video from time to time during meetings to give yourself a brief nonverbal rest (this is a helpful ground rule to set for group calls).
These are some other tips that I personally use in my coaching:
I offer the option for my clients to turn off their camera and have the session on just audio. This gives them the freedom to turn their body away from the screen and solely focus on the conversation.
I also remind my clients to stand up and stretch now and then, and I do the same, because ‘There’s growing research now that suggests when people are moving, they’re performing better cognitively,’ (Bailenson)
A few words on social media: It can be a great platform to build a global community and network, but it's also very fast-moving and addictive. We can get caught up comparing our lives to what thousands of other people are doing around the world in real time, and this robs us of the very things that matter- friendships, deep work, spending time with loved ones and catching the beauty in the moments.
I've taken a break from sharing content on social media recently. Instead, I've invested in face-to-face relationships and enjoyed quality, long-form media such as podcasts and blogs that I read on my mobile device but offline, on my Instapaper app. As a result, I feel better emotionally; I'm more focused and my creativity is soaring as a result.
I encourage you to set limits on how much time you spend on social media. Use it consciously (try regular social media sabbaticals) and instead spend more time in the offline world. You won't regret it.
3. The Benefits of Face-to-Face Connection in Collaboration and Coaching
Business breakthroughs happen when we step out of our usual daily work environment.
Kati Quigley, senior director of marketing, business applications and industry for Microsoft, who has always worked with Hilton, points out that when people get out of their normal environment, ‘it makes them think differently. You build this engaging experience that shakes up their normal view of the world and gets them to look up from their computers or away from their phones.’
A face-to-face event you connect over a shared interest or enjoy refreshments together. You get to make eye contact, have creative dialogues, and even have a laugh together. All these interactions make you feel good, and help you look at things from a whole new perspective. This can be a catalyst to help you see what you really want- and what's really possible for your business.
'In-person meetings provide a sense of intimacy, connection, and empathy that's difficult to replicate via video.' Paul Axtell (Meetings Matter).
We're also much more likely to be present and give our full attention to someone when we're face-to-face because we feel more psychologically safe than when we're behind a screen. We're less likely to misunderstand each other when we physically meet because we can better read one another's body language and other social cues. (Cisco, 2012)
Collaborating in person makes for stronger personal interactions. Eye contact, gestures, and seeing one another's facial expressions help us better build relationships, so face-to-face coaching undeniably has enormous benefits.
A study from Yale also shows that face-to-face conversations activate our social neural circuits more effectively than online interactions with present technology:
‘Neural signaling during online exchanges was substantially suppressed compared to activity observed in those having face-to-face conversations’
This shows us that we need face-to-face interaction because it fires up the social neural circuitry system in our brains in a way that Zoom meetings cannot. We need social in-person synergy.
So much evidence points to the vast benefits found in in-person meetings. We need less 'online' and more time together. More time investing in relationships. More face-to-face co-working opportunities, and in-person coaching.
4. The Solution: Balance for a Healthy Entrepreneurial Journey
If you're reading this and know you need to make a change, here are some simple ways to get started.
Start small and aim to meet up with a friend or colleague once a week.
Take a break from social media, even if just for a day at first. Notice how you feel afterward. Consider how your insights might guide the way you use social media moving forward. You could also delete a social media app from your phone for a period of time or 'cull' the accounts you follow that don't bring any tangible value to your life. (Tip: don't cull multiple accounts in one go on Instagram because it will lock you out! After this happened to my husband, I now only delete 10 accounts at a time during a ‘cull session’.)
If you work solo, grow your ' local offline community' by finding a group of like-minded entrepreneurs in your area and getting them together for coffee and networking once a month. If you've made friends online, why not be brave and ask them to meet up face-to-face? Who knows what the positive ripple effect of this conversation might be without a screen between the two of you?"
Embody your own CEO time with like-minded business owners. When I ran Kocoon Spa in Beijing, I'd indulge in tea time at a hotel lounge every Monday. I'd do my CEO thinking and planning and then finish the day with a pedicure with a friend. I called it "Beauty Mondays'. Find an enjoyable way to spend time with other entrepreneurs and build your business.
Your Village is Calling You Home
The internet is a fantastic tool, and remote work has benefits. But we have reached a turning point in the digital era, where we can longer ignore the role and consequences of endless social media scrolling and back-to-back Zoom meetings throughout the day. We were made for social interaction, and if we want to run our businesses in a way that leads to fulfilled and healthy lives, we need to embrace a hybrid business model so we can enjoy the best of both our online and offline worlds.
Let’s use the internet to engage with people in real life- instead of just messaging back and forth on a screen with that person you met on Instagram, why not invite them to meet up and have lunch? What other ways can diversify your circle and get yourself out of your routine? Can you join a workshop or mastermind? How can you get out of your ordinary day to day setting and enjoy a ‘CEO day’ where you get to look at the big picture of what you’re doing?
When it comes to co-working and coaching, I believe that the magic happens when we have the right balance between online interactions and face-to-face connections, so I hope I have encouraged you that it’s not only possible, it will lead to a more harmonious and abundant business, and life overall.
About Maika Endo
Hi, I’m Maika, host of the Business Clarity Podcast, author of Focus & Flow, award-winning wellness entrepreneur, Evernote expert, and tech enthusiast. With my unique holistic coaching approach, I come alongside health and wellness entrepreneurs, coaches, mentors, educators, and creatives to help them build legacy-leaving businesses. By focusing on developing the right mindset systems and strategy, I help them attain what, deep down, I believe we all want:
- Peace of mind
- A life of meaning and impact
- A reliable and abundant income