Seven ways to cope with fatigue of virtual meetings

ads

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 20 per cent of workers in the United States worked remotely. By December 2020, a year after the pandemic started, the number had risen to 71 per cent, according to a survey by Pew Research Centre.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Countries such as Nigeria may not readily have data to show the number of remote workers before and during the pandemic, but it is obvious that there has been a shift in the way people now work.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">The COVID-19 pandemic significantly accelerated the remote working trend, as quarantines, lockdowns, and other social distancing measures made commuting and working in an office impossible for millions around the world.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">In the face of the pandemic, remote work, also called telework or working from home, saw millions of people, particularly non-essential workers, performing their roles away from the physical office environment – all thanks to specialised technology helping managers, workers and their clients connect without having to leave their homes.




<

p style="text-align: justify;">A  global survey of 800 HR executives conducted by market research firm Gartner in 2020 found that 88 per cent of organisations encouraged or required employees to work from home, and even post-pandemic, there is no turning back on the future of work: it is going to be remote.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">What this means is that virtual meetings have come to stay. And while they are a good thing, as they limit the amount of time and energy expended on travel, they can also be draining.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">In part, this is because virtual meetings force people to focus more intently on conversations to absorb information. They also require people to stare directly at a screen for several minutes at a go without any visual or mental break, which can be tiring.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">If it were in a physical meeting, if one got distracted, one could rely on whispered side exchanges to catch up. During an online meeting, however, it may be a bit difficult. Even if one uses the private chat feature available on popular virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom, Skype and Google Meet, asking a colleague what transpired during a meeting may take a while before getting a response.



<

p style="text-align: justify;">Over the past few months, keywords like “Zoom fatigue” have popped up frequently on social media and Google searches, suggesting that more people might be experiencing the stress associated with online meetings.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Zoom fatigue, according to communications expert Kesava Mandiga, is a catch-all phrase for mental exhaustion associated with extensive video conferencing.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Despite the name, it applies to the usage of any video conferencing solution service. Left unchecked, Zoom fatigue lowers engagement and productivity across the organisation.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">The founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Prof Jeremy Bailenson, identified four reasons for Zoom fatigue, namely: excessive amounts of close-up eye contact, constantly seeing oneself during video chats, limited mobility, and cognitive load.



READ  10 Valentine’s Day gifts for your spouse

<

p style="text-align: justify;">It’s not all bad news, and on that account, experts recommended the following research-based tips to make virtual meetings less exhausting.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Avoid multitasking

<

p style="text-align: justify;">It’s easy to think that you can use the opportunity to do more in less time. But research shows that trying to do multiple things at once cuts into performance. Because you have to turn certain parts of your brain off and on for different types of work, switching between tasks can cost you as much as 40 per cent of your productive time.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Researchers at Stanford found that people who multitask can’t remember things as well as their more singularly focused peers. So the next time you’re in a virtual meeting, Liz Fosslien and Mollie Duffy of the Harvard Business Review suggested closing any tabs or programmes that might distract you.



<

p style="text-align: justify;">“Put your phone away and stay present. We know it’s tempting, but try to remind yourself that the Slack (or email) message you just got can wait 15 minutes and that you’ll be able to craft a better response when you’re not also on a video chat,” Fosslien and Duffy wrote on hbr.org.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Take breaks

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Fosslien and Duffy advised taking mini-breaks from video during longer meetings by minimising the window and moving it to behind your open applications or just looking away from your computer completely for a few seconds now and then.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">They said, “We’re all more used to being on video now (and to the stressors that come with nonstop face time). Your colleagues probably understand more than you think – it is possible to listen without staring at the screen for a full 30 minutes. This is not an invitation to start doing something else, but to let your eyes rest for a moment.



<

p style="text-align: justify;">“For days when you can’t avoid back-to-back calls, consider making meetings 25 or 50 minutes (instead of the standard half-hour and hour) to give yourself enough time in between to get up and move around for a bit. If you are on an hour-long video call, make it okay for people to turn off their cameras for parts of the call.”

<

p style="text-align: justify;">The experts said you could try going for a quick five-minute walk, doing some light stretches, or having a small snack. You may even be able to connect with a friend or loved one for a few minutes.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">These controlled breaks can have a grounding effect in the middle of a packed workday.

READ  10 signs your partner is unfaithful

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Stop meeting when chat will do



<

p style="text-align: justify;">As much as managers want to see their subordinates’ faces, engaging in frequent video meetings can result in low productivity, just like the way frequent physical meetings can.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">The communications expert, Mandiga, suggested that on some occasions, managers could decide to have meetings with their employees via email or chats.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Similarly, career and leadership coach, Ashira Prossack, noted that not all meetings require actual face time.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">“Sometimes, a phone call is just as sufficient, if not more so. Phone calls can be taken from anywhere which allows for much more flexibility.



<

p style="text-align: justify;">“You don’t have to get dressed up or put on makeup for a phone call, and with all the added stressors of working from home, that can be a really nice bonus,” she wrote on forbes.com.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Reduce onscreen stimuli

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Research shows that when you’re on video, you tend to spend the most time gazing at your own face. This can be easily avoided by hiding yourself from view. Still, onscreen distractions go far beyond yourself.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">You may be surprised to learn that on video, we not only focus on other’s faces but on their backgrounds as well. If you’re on a call with five people, you may feel like you’re in five different rooms at once. You can see their furniture, plants, and wallpaper. You might even strain to see what books they have on their shelves. The brain has to process all of these visual environmental cues at the same time.



<

p style="text-align: justify;">To combat mental fatigue, Fosslien and Duffy encouraged people to use plain backgrounds or agree as a group to have everyone who is not talking turn off their video.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Avoid video for external calls

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Many people now feel a tendency to treat video as the default for all communications. In situations where you’re communicating with people outside of your organisation, conversations for which you used to rely on phone calls, you may feel obligated to send out a Zoom link instead.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">However, a video call is fairly intimate and can even feel invasive in some situations.



<

p style="text-align: justify;">For example, if you’re asked to do a career advice call and you don’t know the person you’re talking to, sticking to the phone is often a safer choice. If your client video-calls you with no warning, it’s okay to decline and suggest a call instead.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Some of these tips might be hard to follow at first, but taking these steps can help you prevent feeling exhausted at the thought of another video chat. It’s tiring enough trying to adapt to this new normal. Make video calls a little easier for yourself.

READ  10 signs to know a depressed person

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Give life to your workspace

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Sometimes, an environment where one works can zap one’s creativity and productivity, which is why it is important to declutter your workspace before a virtual meeting. It’s good to make this a habit.



<

p style="text-align: justify;">If you can, use a separate room in your home and turn it into a workspace. That area should be for work and only work. This is essential to creating and maintaining a work/life balance.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Now that you have your workspace, ensure that it is ergonomic and comfortable for long work sessions. Keeping it clear of clutter and away from distractions and noise will help your focus and concentration.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Set and follow an agenda

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Sometimes, Zoom meetings can drag on much longer than they need to, and this can exacerbate feelings of Zoom fatigue. To keep meetings on track and on time, career and leadership coach, Prossack, recommended setting and sharing an agenda with everyone ahead of time.



<

p style="text-align: justify;">“That way everyone knows exactly what’s expected of them and what the meeting will cover, as well as how long it will be. Try to not exceed the scheduled time by firmly following the agenda and reigning in anyone who rambles and gets too far off track,” she said.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Additionally, the founding Director of the Stanford Social Media Lab, Jeff Hancock, said in a research that it was time to better understand how to create best practices for videoconferencing setups and come up with institutional guidelines, seeing that the future of work is remote post-pandemic era.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Hancock said people would adapt to this future, adding that humans had experienced similar situations with new technology in the past.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">He said, “When we first had elevators, we didn’t know whether we should stare at each other or not in that space. More recently, ride-sharing has brought up questions about whether you talk to the driver or not, or whether to get in the back seat or the passenger seat.



<

p style="text-align: justify;">“We had to evolve ways to make it work for us. We’re in that era now with video conferencing, and understanding the mechanisms will help us understand the optimal way to do things for different settings, different organisations and different kinds of meetings.”    ,,

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Copyright PUNCH.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.

<

p style="text-align: justify;">Contact: theeditor@punchng.com
The post Seven ways to cope with fatigue of virtual meetings appeared first on Punch Newspapers.

ads

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply