We often think back to a year ago and are amazed at the massive amount of changes we’ve all endured. If they were handing out awards for quickly adapting to unforeseeable issues, we’d all have lots of shiny new medals.
One thing that has dramatically changed for many of us is how we meet during the workday. No more meetings in a packed boardroom or dragging extra chairs into a colleague’s little office. Today, it’s all about Zoom meetings.
According to a study from the calendar-assistant company Clockwise, remote workers are spending 29 percent more time in team meetings and 24 percent more time in one-on-one meetings than they were before COVID-19. And new data from the Society for Human Resource Management indicates that 41 percent of employees working at home during the pandemic feel burnt out, drained, or exhausted from their work.
It’s not simply Zoom meetings, it’s what Zoom meetings bring (and don’t bring) with them that’s hurting our workforce, like:
- Friendly chit chat. That’s all but vanished because we join the meeting at a certain time, and everyone logs off together. Gone are the important relationship-building and casual banter that happens when people show up for a meeting a few minutes early to catch up on life.
- Reading body language. This is tough to do when your team’s faces are the size of a deck of cards. Is that a sneer or is she thinking about what you just said? It’s hard to tell. This can make you feel self-conscious and distracted.
- Screen time - All. Day. Long. Fatigue is not the only thing that happens when you look at a screen for hours on end, but headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and neck and shoulder pain are common issues people experience after a long time connected to their laptops. Yikes.
What can you do short of throwing your laptop out the window? Here are some tips to give a whirl the next time you’re feeling Zoomed out.
- Be flexible. Unless it’s mandated by your organization, it’s okay if some teammates don’t turn their cameras on at every single meeting, as long as you know they are still engaging with you in conversation. Or if your coworker’s toddler has a total meltdown and has to turn the audio off to tend to those needs in that moment. Being flexible sets a more relaxed tone. And it’s a great reminder that we are all in this together and together we will make it through.
- Get moving. Give yourself a mental break by getting up and walking– outside for some fresh air is best. But if that’s not an option, tool around your living space. Schedule it in your day. Friendly reminder: this is a technology-free time.
- Just breathe. You know when it’s happening - fatigue and anxiety start creeping in. It’s time to take a deep breath and think about something that makes you happy, like you’re finally visiting with a friend later or you’re super excited to try that new recipe tonight. And know that everything will be okay.