Just a year ago, not many people had heard of Zoom fatigue or even believed it was a thing. When meetings were switched to virtual, many employees had mixed feelings of confusion, joy, sadness, dread, anxiety…there were so many uncertainties.
Day after day, I would see how exhausted my clients were. I would ask about their day. Some mentioned running on a hamster’s wheel, while others had more time on their hands for increased boredom and worries. But, regardless of what they shared, the common theme was exhaustion.
Researchers surveyed various industries and revealed that almost 93% of respondents described, after a videoconference, they felt exhausted, fatigued, tired, drained and worn out (Bennett, et al., 2021).
Minimizing virtual exhaustion can help improve productivity and resilience for employees.
If organizations can integrate best practices within their conference calls, this can promote engagement, minimize exhaustion and improve performance.
1. Best time to hold video conferencing
Working from home often creates competition for attention. Your meetings may not stand a chance against a hungry child, homeschooling, WiFi connection, needy pets, emails, phone calls and other attention-draining distractions.
Did you know that there is an optimal time for meetings?
According to Bennett, et al. (2021), the best meeting time for a videoconference is early in the morning, while the later afternoon and early evening had the highest fatigue levels. These researchers also noted decreased levels of video-conferencing fatigue when participants muted themselves and communicated through an online chat option.Employers should strongly consider scheduling meetings during optimal times and engaging in group discussions to maximize employees’ attention and avoid fatigue.
2. Encourage small talk
In the first five minutes of meeting with a client, I can usually tell if they want to get down to business or not. Some clients will tell me straight out, while, for others, their behaviours signal the directives. Through small talk, I can usually understand the client a little more, tailoring interventions to meet their needs.
Unfortunately, the phrase ‘small talk’ has been associated with negative connotations. But, within the office environment, our days are filled with small talk for varying purposes.
According to the Harvard Business Review (Frisch & Greene, 2021), integrating small talk within virtual meetings can offer opportunities to connect. Think about it…gone are the days of potlucks, team-building activities, happy hour or connecting with a co-worker over lunch. So, having a healthy amount of small talk can help team members connect and feel a sense of belonging.
Some suggestions are to include small talk as informal conversation time, having ice-breaker activities, check-ins, and having unstructured time at the beginning and end of each meeting.
Applying these simple steps can improve interpersonal connection and boost efficiency. Incorporating these suggestions can help those who value informal contestation time to express themselves and connect with the group, while giving the option to leave for those with limited time.
3. Camera on or off?
Turning the camera on or off can have both positive and negative impacts. On one hand, some clients feel connected and engaged, while others feel distressed with their cameras on. For some, having the camera off gives comfort, yet there is a higher chance of being distracted.
Many clients I have worked with have mentioned how much they dislike being on camera and having to see themselves on the screen.What happens to our exhaustion levels when we have our cameras on?
Virtual meetings do not have the same visual and spatial cues as being in person. Within real-world environments, a constant gaze is often reserved for candlelight dinners, intimacy and increased attention (Psychology Today, 2020). This constant gaze out of context can create discomfort, as employees need to be fully present, having their brains signalling constant messages and violating their personal space.
This can lead to tiredness and exhaustion within the workday. Giving the option to have cameras off, having mini-breaks within a meeting after about 20-30 mins can help reduce exhaustion, cognitive overload and boost attention levels.
How Can STRiVE Mental Health, Wellness & Empowerment Help?
The well-being of your employees is paramount to us.
STRiVE helps organizations develop strategies by providing tools to help employees recover from burnout and boost productivity. The goal is to provide top-quality evidence-based program development and workshops, both in person and virtually, while building long-term resilient employees.
We want to help your organization. Contact us at at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.