More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, things are still far from what we once considered normal. Employees have transformed their kitchens and living room spaces into home offices and replaced in-person meetings with video calls. What was initially looked at as a temporary solution has now become a way of life.
Let’s face it: working from the comfort of our own homes has become a little less comfortable these days. In fact, as the pandemic stretches on, more Americans have become “burned out.” A recent survey by online employment platform Monster found that more than two-thirds of employees have experienced burnout symptoms while working from home. Despite these feelings, people reported they took less time off than usual and almost half (42%) had no plans to use their vacation days in the near future.
One factor that has led to increased stress and anxiety has been dubbed Zoom fatigue, and it has some very real consequences. Video conferencing may seem like the best replacement for in-person meetings, but the newer technology comes with an entirely unique set of issues. This includes sound and video delays that can leave gaps, opening up the possibility of being misinterpreted. The natural flow of conversations can be choppy and causes an unconscious overworking of the brain in order to synchronize communication. Video conferences also lack the ability to capture body language and can result in reduced reassurance on both sides of the screen.
These issues have caused employers to look for new solutions to boost employee morale and maintain productivity. One of the most obvious solutions is to simply cut down on the number of video calls that employees are required to attend. Some businesses have even implemented a meeting-free day – everyone agrees not to schedule meetings on a specific day of the week. This practice gives employees additional time to decompress and focus on the task at hand. Recently, investment banking company Citigroup announced they will give their employees a weekly break from Zoom, and a day off in May to battle the fatigue plaguing workers who’ve been glued to screens during the pandemic.
Other businesses have also introduced alternative means of communication like camera-free chat platforms such as Slack or Twist. Last summer, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers introduced “quiet Fridays.” The organization banned all virtual meetings and encouraged employees to keep emails and phone calls to a minimum. It’s a way to get a quick response from coworkers without having to jump on a call or video chat.
If your company has not yet implemented strategies to help fight Zoom fatigue, there are ways you can reduce the stress on your own. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make sure to allot time for breaks. If you have control over your schedule, don’t pack it with back-to-back video meetings.
- Try to minimize distractions and encourage other team members to hide themselves from their gallery. It’s also a good idea to close unnecessary tabs when you join a meeting.
- Schedule a good old fashion phone call. Not all meetings require actual face time. Phone calls can be taken from anywhere which allows for much more flexibility.
- Think about your space to avoid misinterpretation. Make sure you are well-lit to reduce shadows and prevent grainy video quality. This helps people read your expressions more effectively.
- Schedule time for a short walk or quick exercise session. Our bodies get tired when we stare at screens for hours at a time and it can become physically taxing.
Experienced Employment Law Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Investigator, Legal and Media Commentator
Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment and labor law attorney, mediator, arbitrator, and certified workplace and Title IX investigator (AWI-CH) in Los Angeles, CA. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues.
Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes.com, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.
Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Judicate West, a California dispute resolution company. She also owns her own dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation, arbitration, and investigation of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, fraternities and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments; and other private and public sector workplaces.
For more information regarding resources for employers, businesses, and employees during this time, connect with Angela on LinkedIn for new updates, or contact her here. You may also follow her on Instagram.
This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.